Sydney restaurant turns water into the new wine

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Water is the new wine at a top-notch Sydney restaurant offering health-conscious customers “bold” or “velvety” varieties which can cost as much as some vintages.

A restaurant manager arranges bottles of water which are offered in a water menu in an hotel in central Sydney, August 6, 2008. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

In what appears to a first in major wine producer Australia, Kable’s restaurant at Sydney’s Four Seasons Hotel offers a menu of 20 types of water from around the world with descriptions that wouldn’t be out of place on a fine wine menu.

“The main reason behind launching the water menu is because we are finding more and more of our guests are increasingly health conscious,” Four Seasons public relations manager Sally McCann told Reuters. “Often people feel pressured into ordering a glass of wine with their meal but now customers have a choice,” she said. “Our customers are really enjoying the novelty and experiencing the water as they would wine.”

Some Kable’s waters are listed as having “an elegant velvet character when served at room temperature” while others are described as having a “large mouth feel and is best served as a pre-dinner drink with hors d’oeuvres”.

“You should match the mouth feel of the water, with the mouth feel of the dish,” said restaurant manager Philippo Radrizzani.

“Normally with wine you go with the progression but with water you should go with different intensity of the carbonation in the water,” he added.

“Some waters can be velvety in the mouth, while some can be a little bit harsh.”

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The water menu is divided according to its source and the mineral content and includes “artesian”, which comes from deep within the earth, “spring”, which acquires minerals through rocks and “rain”, which is collected from the world’s cleanest skies.

It also features a category for sparkling waters. Small bottles range in price from A$16 to A$20 ($15 to $18) compared to a glass of local wine which costs between A$11 to A$13.

Home to wine labels such as Penfolds and the popular Jacob’s Creek, Australia is the fourth largest vintage exporter in the world, according to the Australian Trade Commission.

Australians are also significant wine drinkers, with some surveys ranking them the 16th biggest consumers in the world, although beer still remains the nation’s favorite tipple.

Kable’s now hopes water will become equally popular.

For diners confused about which water best compliments their meal, Radrizzani recommends lightly sparkling waters, such as France’s Badoit, for salads, seafood or white meat dishes while “classic” sparkling waters such as Italy’s San Pellegrino, work well as mixers or with red meat dishes.

“Waiwera from New Zealand is actually a little bit salty, this goes very well with venison or pork,” he said. “It has an after-taste almost like wine, it’s very long in the mouth.”

And if you fancy an aperitif, Radrizzani says “bold” sparkling waters with a “the largest mouth feel of any water” are as good as a glass of champagne.

“They are like champagne, bubbly and loud in the mouth.”

Editing by Miral Fahmy