12.100 Taste Test: Sparkling Waters


15 (Thu) April 2021

Taste Test: Sparkling Waters

at home

-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-


Spring Cleaning (Day 4 of 5)

Years overdue, I am undertaking a water fast – nothing but water – for 5 days this week, Monday to Friday.

At the end of Day 4, I’m started to feel the strain.  Spells of mild dizziness during the day, exhausted by the end of the day, in bed by 1800.  Still not hungry – I’m such a fat slob that my body feels full feeding off itself.

Not sure if this means anything, but the Seagram’s, as well as Trevi, began actively bubbling upon opening.

Having tested mineral waters (see Day 2, supra), I tried today to determine whether sparkling waters taste different, whether paying more for certain brands is worth the money.

6 contenders (1 purchased at a Thai restaurant, 5 purchased at E-Mart):

  • Chang Soda Water (4,000 won for 325 ml = 1,231 won per 100 ml) (0 mg Na per 100 ml) (Thai)
  • ChoJung (“World Top 3 – Origin of Sparkling Water”) (980 won for 1.5 liters = 65 won per 100 ml) (0 mg Na per 100 ml) (Korean)
  • Gerolsteiner Sparkling Natural Mineral Water (“Rich in Minerals, Perfectly Balanced in Taste”) (1,180 won for 600 ml = 236 won per 100 ml) (12 mg Na per 100 ml) (German)
  • Seagram’s Plain Sparkling Water (650 won for 350 ml = 186 won per 100 ml) (3 mg Na per 100 ml) (USA)(source: Korea)
  • S. Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water (“Bottled at the Source”) (2,980 won for 750 ml = 398 won per 100 ml) (31 mg Na per 100 ml) (Italian)
  • Trevi Plain Sparkling Water (“Stylish Sparkling Trevi”) (1,080 won for 500 ml = 216 won per 100 ml) (3 mg Na per 100 ml) (Korean)

With IZ’s help, I conducted a blind taste test.  The bottles were chilled in the refrigerator, taken out and opened just prior to the test.  In random order, he poured about a half cup of a bottle into a white wine glass – I don’t have 6 of the same wine glass, so I used one glass for all tastings, wiping it down between pours.  I took 2 sips, first to assess the carbonation, and second to assess flavor.  After going through the 6 brands, I tasted all of them again, then ranked them according to general preference.

Or maybe the glassware had something to do with it?

My rankings:

    1. Seagram’s
    2. S. Pellegrino
    3. Chang
    4. Trevi
    5. Gerolsteiner
    6. ChoJung

Perhaps because of the carbonation and/or the colder temperature of the waters, the tastings were more pleasurable than the prior tastings of the still waters.  I liked the Seagram’s for its lively bubbles and slightly sharp flavor, same with the Pellegrino.  The Chang and the Trevi were both a bit flat in texture and taste, but passable.  I found that the carbonation of the Gerolsteiner was too passive, and left a lingering minerality on the finish that I didn’t like, though it was very subtle, probably detectable only in this kind of concentrated tasting.  The ChoJung, possibly due to the big plastic bottle, had a distinctly unpleasant waxy aftertaste.

The only nutrient that any of them had was sodium (Na), though it didn’t seem to have any impact on the rankings.  Pellegrino had 10 times more than Seagram’s.

Cost didn’t seem to play much of a factor.  The cheapest of the bunch – ChoJung – was undrinkable, but that was from poor packaging, though that would be their responsibility.  The cost of the Chang was so high because it was sold at a restaurant, no idea how much it would be in a supermarket.

Incidentally, ChoJung was the first big brand of locally produced sparkling water in Korea, at least as far I knew.  At first, my only reliable source was a convenience store attached to a filling station near Ajou University, where I used to work, circa mid-aughts.  Gradually, I began seeing it in larger national supermarkets, like E-Mart.

Regrettably, Perrier wasn’t included in the test.  It’s available in Korea, but just not in the E-Mart where I had purchased the others.

For whatever reason, this test produced a broader range of outcomes, maybe the differences in carbonation, or maybe I’m already getting better at detecting nuances?  Anyway, I suppose that Seagram’s will now be my go-to brand.  And if ever I have no choice but Pellegrino, at least I’ll know that it’s passed the test.

IZ’s rankings (he didn’t like any of them):

    1. Trevi
    2. Seagram’s
    3. Gerolsteiner
    4. S. Pellegrino
    5. ChoJung
    6. Chang

(See also FOODS)

(See also PLACES)

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