Journey of India's Only Water Sommelier

‘Water Sommelier’ accreditation is a unique contribution to understanding the nuances and varied properties of water. It is important to consider water in the context of how it pairs with food and cocktails.

“WELL I am the only one sommelier as of today but there will be more in the years to come and that's a welcome and much-needed step,” Said by Ganesh Iyer, Director Operations India and Indian Subcontinent, VEEN. In an exclusive interaction with Iyer BW Hotelier came across a comprehensive view about his journey as India ‘s only Water Sommelier, also got to know some amazing facts about how is seen water as a commodity.

 ‘Water Sommelier’ accreditation is a unique contribution to understanding the nuances and varied properties of water. It is important to consider water in the context of how it pairs with food and cocktails. Most people do not realize that water has a huge impact on everything presented on a plate or in a glass. As India's first Water Sommelier, Iyer has received sensorial training in understanding the nuances and varied properties of water and how they are unique to their origin, how each of them differs in composition, nutritional benefits, taste and health properties if any.

He points VEEN’S goal was to introduce the premium natural water category in recyclable glass bottles to the Indian market. In India, There was just one local bottled water brand and subsequent years saw the advent of India’s first natural mineral water brand followed by the first imported water brand. In the current scenario, there are close to half a dozen brands of natural mineral water in the market.  The big change in the past few years is the emergence of flint glass as a key packaging for natural mineral water in India following VEEN Glass’s maiden entry into the market in 2013.  

Globally PET has never really been accepted on a dining table and in the culinary environment whereas this shift is currently happening in India.  Indian consumers now understand the basic difference between purified packaged drinking water and natural mineral water – the latter being more relevant in the hospitality industry.  Concepts like PH, TDS, and virginality of the water are vocabulary that is becoming commonly known as the category grows.

Well sparkling water brands  in India has been around for more than 2 decades, but the awareness of the same has been pretty low, and it used to be consumed more by the expats or international travellers, but with more and more Indians traveling across the globe now today they have also taken a liking to it. Sparkling water is naturally carbonated. Its bubbles come from a spring or well with naturally occurring carbonation. In some cases, artificial carbonation is added to the water to lend itself to the name of sparkling/carbonated water.

On an elementary level, free water is a fundamental right to every citizen. But where this fundamental right is falling short is the application and uneven distribution of water and more pertinently whether that said water is potable enough for consumption. Therefore in this context comes the bitter and unavoidable truth that water ought to be made commercially available at different price points to satiate the safety aspect of drinking water till such time the quality and hygiene standards of tap water see significant development for the overall populace

Water is a necessity but however it is considered to be a luxury, the unique properties and characteristics leads to the emergence of Fine Water Category, thus the pricing of the pet bottle differs because of the unique features. In general, water ought to need not be labelled at luxury but there are also brands that put considerable on unique packaging which tends to be collector's items and these tend to get labelled as a luxury product.

Further, Iyer has noted that no two mineral waters are alike. Every mineral water and every spring water is absolutely unique due to its origin, its composition, its nutritional benefits, and its characteristic taste, by which it can be distinguished from other mineral or spring waters. Every water has a unique story and history in being what it is and thereby resulting in its respective minerality, vintage, carbonation, etc.

Water can be classified into three categories such as the Natural Mineral Water, Packaged Drinking Water and the  Regular Water /Tap Water.

 The primary goal of VEEN remains to educate and create awareness about the importance of natural mineral water amongst all stakeholders in the food and beverage industry.  VEEN even intends to launch a whole range of beverages in its natural and healthy form be it natural mixers like ginger ale, tonic water, Ayurveda Super shots, Ayurveda water etc. We see this happening in the next 18-24 months.

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