Monday, February 27, 2006

Water, Water Everywhere

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Follow the detour signs, enjoy the scenery, and take note of all the interesting gods and goddesses just sitting around hoping for your tourist dollar!

Perhaps you'll recall that, having learned of my prowess as a goat judge, the citizens of Berkeley Springs asked me to be a judge at the Sixteenth Annual Berkeley Springs Water Tasting Contest.

I am home with the results of the experience.

Okay, go ahead and laugh. Water is water, right? You go to a water tasting festival, you just sit around and hope Jesus shows up and turns the stuff into wine.

I must admit I was skeptical. And, with my deep training as a goat judge (and long experience winning county, state, regional, and national contests as an exhibitor), I wondered how one could develop water-tasting expertise in a mere afternoon.

But I think that's the point. The idea is to get some ordinary citizens to make judgments based on personal preference. The interesting development is that many of the same waters win year after year. And we're not allowed to cheat and ask the judge next to us what they think about Water Number Six.

For most of the judges, water judging was an ordeal. Go ahead, you try sipping 60 samples of water in four hours. And unlike wine, swallowing is an important component of this competition, because you have to evaluate aftertaste and whether the sample is quenching or not.

Water, thirst-quenching? What a novel concept! Except that some of them did lack that special quality that makes a water go down well.

In case you want to be a water judge, here are the steps:

1. Hold the glass up to a plain white sheet of paper, in order to detect suspended particles or cloudiness.

2. Sniff the stuff.

3. Take a sip and roll it around your palate.

4. Swallow.

5. Belch.

Okay, I added that last one.

The hardest category was purified drinking water (don't kid yourself, that's exactly what's in your Dasani bottle). It has no odor and no taste. That's what they filter out of it. Add that to the fact that all water comes out of the ground, and you've got 20 samples of pretty doggone dull stuff.

But the sparkling water. AHHHHHHH! By the breath of Poseidon, I love sparkling water! I drink gallons of Pellegrino and Perrier. But the sparkling water doled out at this competition made P & P taste like swamp water. We're talking the champagne of sparkling waters, the creme de la creme of bubbly wet heaven.

Did I mention that I love sparkling water? That competition was last on the program, I'd already sampled 40 other waters, and there were 16 in the fizzy portion of the evening, and after I judged them I went back and drank every glassful.

Morning after, I felt like I had a hangover in the wrong end of my carcass. But it was worth it, since the natural fizzies aren't available in the U.S.

With no further ado, here's the scoop on The Best Water in the World, As Chosen by a Gang of Rank Amateurs, Soaked to the Gills:

MUNICIPAL WATER (i.e. what comes from your tap)

gold: Montpelier, Ohio
silver: Kent, Ohio
bronze: Sparwood, British Columbia, Canada

PURIFIED DRINKING WATER (extra treatment for that tap H2O)

gold: Claire Baie, Oak Creek, Wisconsin
silver: SoneClear Springs Natural, Vanleer, Tennessee
bronze: Water Boyz, Santa Fe, New Mexico


gold: Great Glacier, Oxford, Wisconsin
silver: Ontario Gold Beverage, Barrie, Ontario, Canada
bronze: Llanyr Source, Wales, United Kingdom
Virginia's Best, Edinburg, Virginia (it was a tie)


gold: Antipodes, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand (SOB! Not available in U.S.) silver: Dobra Voda, Macedonia (They sent two bottles. Ditto as above.)
bronze: Celvik, Tesanj, Bosnia (ditto as above)

So you see, I'm ruined. The 50 cent bottle of selzer will never taste the same, and a jaunt to New Zealand is not in the Johnson budget, and never will be. As for Bosnia (and in earlier years, Romanian fizzies have won big time too), I don't think even Queen Brighid the Bright will be able to find me the funds and the nerve to jet on over to Eastern Europe and hike my way into the Carpathian Mountains, where apparently this liquid gold just bursts from mountainsides.

Well, it was a fun way to spend a weekend. Now please excuse me. I have to go powder my nose.



Davoh said...

Powder yer nose? .. sheesh the faeries have always been interested in priorities.
1. Oxygen (3 minutes)
2. Water (a week or so)
3. Food (3 or 4 weeks)
Temperature fits in there somewhere.

May you always be an officionado of water ;)

Anne Johnson said...

Davo, you sound like my kinda guy. Come see us again at "The Gods Are Bored!" We value your visits!

Athana said...

Alas and alack, my own favorite, "Poland Springs" (from Poland, Maine) was not listed among the creme de la creme! How could this be?!

Sounds like you have something to add to your resume along with goat judging, Anne: "professional water taster par excellence."