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Food pairing with water: is it possible?

There is a lot of talk about food pairing and at the restaurant the choice of wine has become a real art. It is a ritual that aims to harmoniously accompany and perfect the food and wine experience. But did you know that even the right combination with water can enhance the culinary experience?

In fact, just like wine, liqueurs, infusions and many other drinks, water can best enhance the flavors of our dishes. And even if in most cases, drinking water at a restaurant still means choosing between carbonated and natural, as once wine was chosen only on the basis of color, red or white, today it is still treated as if it were a generic product. . But at the same time, more and more protagonists of haute cuisine are dedicating a menu, a special card to the world of water. In fact, each water has its own particular taste and character. Unlike wine, where the aromas we perceive with the nose are those that best express the characteristics of the wine at first glance, water is a practically odorless drink. The Mineral Water Taster Association, similarly to how it is done with wine, uses a card for sensory analysis. This sheet takes into account colour, clarity, smell, effervescence, persistence and flavor. In addition to the effervescence or the absence of such, the water is classified as versatile, tasty or balanced, based on their combination with food. So, if the principle of pairing wine and food is based on a visual, olfactory and gustatory analysis, in the case of pairing food with water it is based on taste.

In fact, contrary to popular belief, water has a well-defined flavour. And this can have a tendency to salty, sour, sweet or bitter. These sensations depend on the most present mineral salt and affect the combination with the dishes it accompanies. For example, a more lively or more mineral water could be matched in accordance with a dish that is equally lively. I still remember when during a pairing lesson at ALMA they offered us Vichy Catalan water from Catalonia combined with a dish based on wasabi, just as intense and lively.

On the other hand, a more delicate water with a low mineral content such as St. Georges from Corsica, can be the ideal combination for delicate dishes such as seafood and light preparations. Although the sensation in the mouth is the most important aspect to take into consideration, the mineral content and acidity should not be overlooked. For example, Lauquen water from Patagonia has a very low mineral content, which makes it excellent for a complex but delicate dish such as sushi. A water with a good effervescence can accompany fatty dishes and clean the mouth as is recommended with sparkling wines. Desserts, on the other hand, go best with waters with a sweet aftertaste, flat or slightly sparkling.

Here are some principles for combining water with food:

A dish with a delicate flavor and a soft texture, it goes well with water without effervescence.

Fat and consistent dish: sparkling mineral water is recommended, which is also capable of effectively “cleaning” the mouth from particularly fatty dishes, just as happens when combining sparkling wines according to this principle.

Medium-savory dish: between a delicate food and a very tasty one there are a series of intermediate cases in which the rule of contrast applies, as happens with wine. The acidic and effervescent waters go well with dishes with a greasy tendency, while tasteless or slightly sweet dishes can be combined with savory waters.

Very spicy or spicy dish: when you eat spicy, spicy or very salty foods, it is preferable to combine mineral water, with a less marked flavor, which therefore highlights the taste of the different courses and gives a sense of lightness to the drink.

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