What is a water sommelier and how to become one

It’s a real job with a handsome salary and requires extensive training, ‘water taster’ Ganesh Iyer tells Tini Sara Anien
Last Updated : 10 December 2021, 22:58 IST

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Ganesh Iyer tastes water for a living. That’s right.

He is a water sommelier, India’s first. His job is to taste, detect and differentiate natural mineral waters based on their mineral content, taste, and place of origin.

In an interview, the Mumbai-based expert talks about this offbeat career, which can fetch a monthly salary of Rs 2 lakh to Rs 4.5 lakh.

What inspired you to become a water sommelier?

After working in the beverage industry since the late ’90s and being part of teams that launched several natural mineral and sparkling water brands, I felt it was time to test the market learnings with a certified water sommelier course.

Back then, there were just a couple of natural mineral water brands in India. Slowly India’s first natural mineral water brand came in and then the first imported brand. Cut to the present, we have eight or nine such companies.

How did you hear about this field?

Wine sommeliers have been around but with the emergence of the fine water industry in the early 2000s, it became necessary to have qualified individuals who could speak about water (as a separate category) and train people from the culinary field.

That’s when I heard about this field of expertise.

What does your job entail?

A water sommelier is someone who is able to detect, recognise and differentiate among different types of natural mineral waters based on their minerality, carbonation, vintage, hardness, orientation, hardness, and other parameters.

Based on their expertise, they can suggest how to pair different waters with different cuisines, wines, and spirits.

Where can one train to become one?

Just a couple of institutes around the world provide water sommelier courses, some of them online. The Doemens Academy in Munich, Germany, is the oldest institute in the world to provide water sommelier certification.

How many types can water be classified into?

In India, water can be classified into packaged drinking water and natural mineral water. This is from a regulatory standpoint, as approved by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). Outside the legal and regulatory scope of BIS, waters can be defined as artesian water, natural mineral water, and sparkling mineral water.

Outside India, I have tasted six or seven types of water and 110 to 120 brands of natural mineral and sparkling water.

Published 10 December 2021, 17:26 IST

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