Q&A WITH DR. MICHAEL MASCHABottled Water Expert | 0 Comments
INTERVIEW WITH THE WORLD’S ONLY WATER SOMMELIER: DR. MICHAEL MASCHA
Dr. Michael Mascha is the creator and publisher of FineWaters (www.finewaters.com), a website portal that is the definitive voice for water connoisseurs and their accompanying lifestyle. The site – and its associated online community -- is the leading destination for education and resources for consumers in the $9 billion dollar bottled water industry. Dr. Mascha is also the author of the acclaimed book Fine Waters - A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Most Distinctive Bottled Waters called “an encyclopaedia of water, a bible of water” by the London Times.
Before FineWaters, Dr. Mascha co-founded CrownPeak Technology (www.crownpeak.com), widely recognized as a leading content management software company. He holds a PhD in Anthropology and Communication Science from the University of Vienna and lives in Los Angeles and Texas.
How is your personality reflected in your line of work?
In the spring of 2002, my cardiologist gave me a choice: I could either continue to drink wine or continue to live. Since I had about five hundred bottles of wine stored in my wine cellar, I hesitated. After thinking further about the choice my cardiologist had given me, I decided that eliminating wine from my life was probably the right choice. Pretty quickly I prepared my wine collection for long-term storage, in case I became terminally ill and could start drinking again.
Who was/is your mentor?
I invented the category.
Describe your idea of the perfect finewater experience.
I enjoy discovering new waters and talking to the producers. It is similar to talking to wine producers, people that are very passionate about their water and food and they are all interesting characters.
What do you consider to be one of your most important learning experiences?
Mid-life crisis. Still not mastered …
What are the ‘key’ ingredients to your personal success?
95% hard work and 5% luck. If you have a couple of projects with those odds you must succeed at some point.
What five fine waters would you currently recommend to people interested in a tasting experience?
Five is a good number to experience how different waters can be; I would start with:
1. A super neutral, soft and super low mineral content water from a source like rain or iceberg (Brand examples: Berg, Iluliaq, Tasmanian Rain).
2. A low medium body still water with a medium hard perception (Brand examples: Iskilde, Virgen, Sole).
3. A medium bodied naturally carbonated water with small bubbles (Brand examples: Ferarrelle, Badoit)
4. A low mineral water with big loud bubbles to enjoy per se or as a water for a spritzer (Brand example: Lauretana)
5. A big bold naturally carbonated water with significant mineral content and medium sized bullbes (Brand examples: Pedras, Vidago, Appolinaris, Gerolsteiner)
In the context of the current international market – with many high-quality waters now available – what tools can F&B professionals use to rate/classify waters?
On our website (www.finewaters.com) and our book (Fine Waters) we establish a vocabulary and etiquette for premium bottled water. Mineral content, carbonation, source, temperature, stemware and many other things need to be considered.
What waters (using your scale of carbonation) do you personally find the most palatable?
Effervescent waters are very sophisticated straddling the border between still and carbonated.
How has the drinking culture of water evolved in the past decade?
We see a big change in the attitude from being openly hostile to accepting that water like wine has a place on the table and is not a commodity.
What waters would you always keep in your fridge at home?
Never store water in your fridge; it’s too cold to be enjoyed. Water should be consumed at room temperature.
Besides writing and talking about water, what are your interests or hobbies?
Fly fishing and fine art photography.
The green/organic lifestyle: how important is it to you personally and to the water industry?
I started a Farmers Market in my small town in Texas that has completely changed the attitude towards local seasonal food in the area and constantly grows with new offerings now including eggs, chickens and meat. 3 years ago all food came from the supermarket today people have a healthy choice.
What inspires you and influences your work?
Talking to a hostile journalist that tells me that he/she knows that water is just water and all the fuss is a big scam. I have a 99% conversion rate showing them something new that they could never have imagined. For an example see here.
How did you become a water expert? What is your background?
Not being able to drink wine and having to look for the other bottle on the table.
Who in the world would you most like to share a glass of fine water with?
Steve Jobs but it’s probably too late for that.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment to date?
Still alive at 50 …
What advice would you give to your younger self if you could?
Moderation and Diversification are not bad words.
Read more about the book Fine Waters on EDE ONLINE here