We have oenophiles, tea experts, and coffee aficionados, so it was just a matter of time before someone started sniffing drinking fountains. After all, sometimes the water charge is the highest on your bill (especially if you thoughtlessly started drinking the beaded bottle of Pellegrino that was staring you down from the center of your restaurant table. At least in Vegas they post a big sign on the hotel bottles, telling you to your face how much they plan to rip you off!), so why shouldn’t you sip thoughtfully?

The last nine minutes of Evan Kleiman’s KCRW radio show, Good Food, on September 9, 2006, were devoted to talking to Dr. Michael Mascha, the water connoisseur. After being told by his doctor that he needed to lay off the wine, Dr. Mascha turned his thirst toward water.

On his website, FineWaters, Dr. Mascha profiles still and sparkling waters from all over the world, provides a water vocabulary to use when tasting and discussing water, and even does food pairings. When thinking of Thanksgiving, for example, FineWaters suggests:

Light designated waters have smaller bubble than those of the Bold sparkling waters. Heritage turkeys have a more subtle, cleaner flavor than commercial turkeys. So in order not to overpower the flavor and to match the mouthfeel of the side dishes a Light sparkling water is perfect.

Dr. Mascha’s thirst-quenching expertise is also heavily featured in Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page’s newest book, What to Drink with What You Eat.

While I might not yet be inclined to give up my reds, whites, and rosés, water is pretty important to me. I was so disgusted by the taste of San Diego municipal water when I briefly lived there that we spent an entire summer lugging plastic jugs of water back from the grocery store. I was ridiculously happy and comforted when we returned to San Francisco’s good old Hetch Hetchy water. Suddenly, life made sense again and my hair felt clean.

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