Sipped alternately, wine and water should induce a sequence of sensations that follow and overlap each other, without either one overpowering or annulling the other. The correct gastronomical accord or balance consists not only in the nature of the sensations induced, but also in their quantity.
For example, with its velvety lightness, Acqua Panna is not suited to a full-bodied wine with a bold structure, which would swamp the water’s pleasant delicacy, and instead blends magnificently with a soft, suave wine having a moderate alcohol level.
Quite the opposite is true for S.Pellegrino – with its fresh tangy appeal it is incorrectly paired with a weak-structured wine that does not linger on the palate, and so prefers a well structured vintage that imposes itself, making a rich combination of flavours that complement each other. Hence, in order to ensure a perfectly harmonious match, we apply the principle of mutual accord between the sensations. By this principle, to blend properly with the wine it accompanies, the water must be either equal, or slightly above or below in intensity of taste with respect to the wine. Whereas, according to the principle of counterbalance, the sensations induced in the one offset those in the other, neutralising each other, so to speak.
If the wine is of the type that lingers long in the mouth, it should be harmonized with a water of like personality that is capable of contrasting the intense sensations of the wine. Hence its function is to “clean” and “free” the palate of residue sensations that might inhibit the pleasure of the ensuing sips of wine. Harmonization through accord occurs when a softer, suave wine is accompanied by a similarly smoother water. In this case the blending of smoother taste factors serves to avoid the two fluids clashing or, worse, one overpowering the other with a dominant taste. In this way the softer notes of alcohol and lightness on the tongue are enhanced, because the slight warmth induced by the wine is prolonged by a smoother water, whereas that pleasant lingering would be checked immediately if a stronger type of water overran the taste buds.
Furthermore, the acidity, flavour, and tannic levels of the wine are flanked by comparable acidity and tanginess in the water to stimulate salivation, thereby compensating for the dryness in the throat caused by the tannin, and aiding the general “rinsing” of the mouth. Knowing how to match wine and water is an art, but is by no means difficult to master. The guidelines we have provided here are enough if accompanied by direct experience, by experimenting and become more aware of these sensations during every meal.
This text is taken from The S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna Water Codex, a book written by international sommelier Giuseppe Vaccarini and Claudia Moriondo (Doctorate in Food Preparation Science). With this book S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna studied and codified the guidelines, the best techniques and tools to conduct water tasting, with the aim to create a common language for everyone who whish to explore this topic.
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