Los Angeles water sommelier wants bottled water treated like wine

Tue Mar 10, 2015 4:18pm EDT
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(Story published on 2nd March refiled to correct name of bottled water in 10th paragraph)

By Lisa Baertlein

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Water sommelier Martin Riese has seen the eye-roll and heard it before: "Water tastings? Only in L.A."

Los Angeles, birthplace of many food trends, may prove the perfect setting for the next phase in Riese's campaign to make people think about water in the same way they think about wine.

U.S. consumers spent $18.8 billion on bottled water last year, more than any other nation, according to Euromonitor International. And, the residents of drought-stricken California are obsessed with all things water.

"For me, it's about taste," said Riese, who adds that the flavor and character of water also is determined by terroir, which covers such things as geology, soil and climate.

Water has been a decades-long fixation for German-born Riese, who as a child loved traveling with his parents and tasting the tap water at each destination. He parlayed that singular interest into a career.

Riese debuted his first water menu in 2006 at First Floor restaurant in Berlin. The public response: "Water tastings? Only in Berlin."

He published Die Welt des Wassers (The World of Water) in 2009 and a year later earned his water sommelier certification from the German Mineral Water Trade Association.   Continued...

German water sommelier Martin Riese poses for a portrait by bottles of water to be used in a water tasting class at Patina restaurant in Los Angeles, California February 25, 2015. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni