The Chemistry and Psychology of Turning Water Into Wine – Facts So Romantic

Penn and Teller famously skewered the bottled water craze on their myth-busting Showtime series, Bullshit, setting up a hidden-camera sting operation in a fancy New York restaurant. A fake “water sommelier” stopped at each table, offering diners a special selection of high-end bottled water at $7 a pop. The catch: All the bottles were identical, filled with water from a garden hose out back. Seduced by flowery brand names like “L’eau du Robinet” (French for “tap water”), the diners waxed eloquent on the distinctive flavor profiles of the bottles they sampled, unaware they were being played.

Now, perhaps, the tables have turned with the recent debut of a sleek, 40-page water menu (pdf) at Ray’s and Stark Bar, a small upscale restaurant in the courtyard of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). It is the creation of German-born Martin Riese, a certified “water sommelier,” thanks to the German Mineral Water Trade Association. He is one of a mere 100 such professionals scattered around the world.

The very notion of a water sommelier elicits snickers and raised eyebrows in most quarters. Riese is accustomed to the eye-rolling and good-naturedly takes the skepticism in stride. Clearly he has latched onto a profitable…

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