Glasses come in an infinite variety of shapes. As the “success” of a tasting glass depends on its allowing for the proper organoleptic assessment, it is necessary to identify the most suitable shape for perceiving aromas and tastes, even those that are well hidden. And so, glasses are designed specifically and primarily for its users to appreciate every nuance of a water, to prolong and exalt the pleasure of its freshness and even to beautify and complete the dining table.
Given that a glass is of such fundamental importance during organoleptic assessments and tastings, when dealing with two waters having different characteristics one needs two containers of different shapes, one for still water and one for sparkling water (and therefore one for S.Pellegrino and one for Acqua Panna). These two types of glasses have some characteristics in common and others that are different. In common they have the material with which they were made, the absence of edges and sharp angles, the absence of a stem, and their thinness, particularly around the rim. The difference, instead, is found in their shape (in particular that of the mouth and the bottommost part of the glass’ bowl), which have been specially selected for the type of water to be examined. It has been unquestionably determined that glass is the only material with which a tasting should be conducted. That the absence of edges allows for easy and perfect cleaning of the container is similarly obvious.
Yet less understandable and evident is that the glass should be without a stem. In fact, we have always been told that the glass must have a stem and a foot, which is to be held between the thumb and index finger so as to avoid heating the liquid contained inside. Instead, in this case, as the aromas of the water are so subtle and delicate (and even imperceptible at times) a slight degree of heating becomes necessary in order to facilitate the evaporation of the aroma molecules with a high molecular weight. Furthermore, in the organoleptic analysis of water, it is not necessary to rotate the glass nor to hold it in one’s hand for a lengthy period of time.
Finally, the rim of the glass must be thin because this will facilitate contact with the lips and the passage of the water into the mouth and will therefore assist in the perception of its flavors. Yet why two different glasses, one for Acqua Panna with a wide mouth, and another for S.Pellegrino, with a narrow mouth?
The glass designed for Acqua Panna allows for the nose to move in closer towards the water and consequently to better perceive its delicate, subtle aromas. In addition, the wide, flared mouth makes it easier for the taster to take generous sips so that the pleasurable sensation is perfectly perceptible and prolonged for a few seconds.
For S.Pellegrino, instead, the glass narrow mouth maintains its “perlage” at length and prompts the head to be lifted back, a position which allows for very small quantities to be consumed with each sip. This has the aim of controlling the flow of the liquid onto the taste receptors and directing them towards the areas of the tongue that are more sensitive to the perception of specific sensations, in particular that of acidity, which generates the sensation of freshness. This type of container also concentrates the water’s aromas, which becomes indispensable and necessary in making the correct matchings with wines having high contents of extract and tannins as well as strong aroma sensations.
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.