News & Politics

Sparkling Water Tasting

Which bubbles are best?

The popularity of bottled waters has produced not only water lists in restaurants and water sommeliers in hotels but almost as many supermarket shelves devoted to water as to soft drinks.

A glass of sparkling water is a good thirst quencher on a summer day. We tasted 25 sparkling waters from local supermarkets and liquor stores and found five that were outstanding.

We looked first for purity of taste. Some taste is desirable. Our least-favorite water was the heavily filtered Aquafina, bottled by Pepsi. The taste should come from the mineral content of the water, but it should not be overpowering. The German waters Gerolsteiner and Apollinaris tasted saltier than the others.

We also found that waters in glass bottles tasted better than waters in plastic. We preferred lively waters with large or medium-size bubbles. They keep their effervescence and stay refreshing longer.

Here Are The Winners

Fiuggi (Italy) Dean & DeLuca $3.95 a liter
San Benedetto (Italy) Cornucopia $2.99 11/2 liter
San Pellegrino (Italy) widely available about $2 a liter
Perrier (France) widely available about $2 a liter
Saratoga (New York) Dean & DeLuca $2.75 a liter
Wegmans Sparkling Mineral Water (Italy) Wegmans $1.50 for 25 ounces

The most expensive water, at $3.95 a liter, was Fiuggi–according to the label, it's the water of popes and kings. Best buys were San Pellegrino, Perrier, and Wegmans Sparkling Mineral Water, usually between $1 and $2 a bottle.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.