Feb 25, 2013 12:18 PM WV State of Mind
Uncover West Virginia's best-kept secrets
Tapping Into Water
What should water taste like? Nothing, right? When I was asked to judge the 23rd Annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, the largest and oldest water tasting competition in the world, I said, “Sure. That will be the easiest thing I’ve ever judged.” Boy, was I in for an education.
First, you must judge the color. Hold the glass of water up to a white tablecloth. Is it cloudy? Discolored? (We tasted a black water called BLK—now that was a trip.) Next you judge for aroma. Three quick sniffs will tell you if there is chlorine in the water or if it has a musty smell. Other categories you look for are mouth feel and aftertaste. Does it feel refreshing or heavy in your mouth? After you swallow does it leave an aftertaste?
The municipal water competition had the greatest variation. With water from across the United States to places as far away as Bangkok, Thailand, Mi-ryang Lake, South Korea, and Niagara, Ontario, Canada, water varied from heavily chlorinated to light and refreshing. I shocked myself with being able to discern the differences. Emporia, Kansas, took home the gold medal for best tap water. In the category of purified water, Rain Fresh oxygen-enriched purified water from Garland, Texas, took home the first place prize.
And then there was carbonated water. The level of carbonation is king. Are the bubbles too aggressive? Do they command the experience? Is it too acidic? Metallic? The sparkling water was surprisingly my favorite category—and I didn’t think that I was a sparkling water fan. After tasting the difference between great sparkling water and poor sparkling water, I realized that I hadn’t been drinking the “good” stuff. Two sparkling waters tied for first place, one Canadian and one Bosnian—Touch Sparkling Mineral Water from Marchand, Manitoba, Canada, and Celvik Dobri Kiseljak from Bosnia.
The Bottled Non-Carbonated category was a bear to judge. These waters were all very similar. Some had a slight musty smell, and in a few, the water tasted slightly plastic, but overall, this category made my mouth numb. Canadian Gold from Marchand, Manitoba, Canada, won this category. Berkeley Springs water bottled as Denton Spring Water in North East, Maryland, came in third.
just drink.” — Zen saying
I was really impressed with the level of organization that goes behind this competition. Jill Klein Rone, the staff producer for the event, and Jeanne Mozier, of Travel Berkeley Springs, have worked on this competition, which draws hundreds and hundreds of entries from around the world, for 23 years. Watermaster Arthur von Wiesenberger has also participated since its inception. But I think what most impresses me is that this event brilliantly markets the state around the world and has branded Berkeley Springs as the premier water-tasting authority. The winners use the Berkeley Springs gold seal on their bottles and in their marketing efforts, putting our state in the hands of millions of people around the globe.