Key Concepts

Sources of Water

Beyond the pure flavor considerations, you should consider intangible qualities like presentation and a water's story when choosing your bottled water. The bottle plays an essential role in the overall perception of the water.

Since water has no notable visible characteristics of its own, the bottle has a remarkable impact on perceived value. Matching the presentation to the venue or event may have no influence on the actual taste — as any blind water tasting will tell you — but doing so can significantly enhance the experience or be detrimental to it. Plastic or glass, minimalist or traditional design, attention-grabbing or discreet, blue or transparent — bottlers offer many presentation options. However, the wine bottle design is relatively uniform as most wineries focus on the label. With water, we are lucky: Both the label and bottle can express terroir, such as with Antipodes, ROI, and Svalbarði.

Every good sommelier tells you a little story about the wine they're pouring you. Does it make the wine taste better? No. Does it make the wine feel more special and unique? Absolutely. The same is true for water: Sharing the story of the water, its source and origin, vintage, and the location and circumstances of its bottling can contribute significantly to the overall experience.

When you think that water is just water, it also makes drinking or hydration a commodity. I see this all the time, especially in the U.S. People walk around with a bottle of water and they wouldn't be seen without one in the car, the gym, or on the trail. The water bottle communicates a lifestyle that is always on the go. I love traveling in Europe, where the trend isn't very dominant and you see the opposite. People don't carry a water bottle but they sit down at a cafe or restaurant and order a bottle of water to be enjoyed while sitting down, maybe having a coffee and a conversation. They seem to enjoy the moment, giving it attention and meaning.