When a bottle of water becomes a bottle of wine...

That can only happen in France! Yesterday, I ordered a bottle of Badoit mineral water in a nifty Parisian brasserie - btw, I highly recommend it, "Les Ministères" rue du Bac, where they serve excellent traditional French fare (I had superb kidneys with an old-style mustard sauce). And it is frequented by a seriously eating French clientele, always a good sign in a touristy place like Paris.

But the bottle of water? Yes, I couldn't believe it. My attention was first attracted by a neat tag around its collar, annoucing that it is produced since 1778 - a respectable date of birth, by any means - and that it is "recognized for its digestive and exhilarating virtues" (sic). Exhilarating? Yes, "exhilarantes" in French, and that (aside from being good for your liver) also means, as it does in English, something that makes you laugh hard.

OK, that was my first laugh (a small one), but there was more (and better)to come.

I turned the bottle over and read the description on the back. Here it is in bullet points, just the way it's printed:
"Bulles fines et légères" = fine and light bubbles: that would fit a Champagne...
"Nez discret et frais" = discreet and fresh "nose" meaning scent, which applies to wine of course...
"Attaque ronde et veloutée" = round and velvety "attack", meaning touch which again applies to wine...
"Bonne longueur en bouche" = good staying power in the mouth, i.e. the taste lasts the way good wine does...
"Effervescence délicate" = delicate froth, again a term well adapted to Champagne...
"Finesse aromatique" = aromatic delicacy: hey, are we still talking about water?
"Finale rafraichissante" = refreshing finale: all right, this is definitely wine. Every wine connoisseur worries about the finale.

Naturally there's an explanation on the left-hand side of the tag: the author of this superlative description of mineral water is none other than Dominique Laporte, the best sommelier of France. He also explains that this is how he is initating us to EAUnologie with Badoit. Yes, eaunology not enology.

So when are we going to have mineral water tasting competitions? With Perrier, Vichy, San Pellegrino, Fiji water, Ferrarelle and all the other mineral waters that exist around the globe? I can't wait! There's bound to be a lot of experts out there considering that every year an estimated 200 billion bottles of water are consumed and that this is one of the fastest rising markets in the food industry (it has grown some 50 percent over the past 5 years). In upscale restaurants in Paris and London, it has become elegant among the ultra rich to have Perrier as an apéritif and wash down refined nouvelle cuisine dishes with Evian or Fiji water.

I can just hear the comments of mineral water experts. Fruit and flower-inspired: "mulberry scented...clean as violets...with acerbic echoes of lime and lemon... ". Geological: "crystal-clear...pristine as chalk cliffs...". Meteorological: "a Tsunami of bubbles...effervescent as a spring rain...explosive as a volcano..." Spatial: "cool as outer space...shimmering like the full moon on a midsummer night..."

Yes, this is all about water - a rapidly diminishing resource. It is expected that fifty years from now, half the humans on this planet will suffer from drought. No wonder water is beginning to look like wine!
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