In a previous post I briefly discussed the stupefying success of bottled water given that is at best indiscernible from tap water and at worst can actually be of lower quality. I was interested last night, therefore, to see a bottled water taste test performed live on a German talk show imaginatively called "NDR Talk Show." The show's format is such that the two hosts sit with eight well-known guests around a large ovular table and they all chat about various topics for the duration of the show. During one segment in last night's show, a "wine and water sommelier" discussed the different tastes and uses of premium bottled water, going so far as to even talk about how to pair water with food. During her little spiel, each guest was given four different types of water in crystal glasses to taste and rank. After each glass was ceremoniously sipped and evaluated, virtually all the guests indicated that they liked the third type of water the best.
So which type was the best? Well, it wasn't the Norwegian glacier water that cost 5-6 € per liter, nor was it another premium brand that cost around 70 € per liter--no, it was Hamburg's finest tap water, which commands the formidable price of about 1.25 € per thousand liters. The sommelier looked appropriately dismayed with the results.
Of course, how could I not see the true economics at play here? The value of bottled water isn't in the taste or the quality of water, but rather in its ability to signal status and wealth.
Only time will tell how long until rappers begin wearing bottles of Evian around their necks--bottle bling, anyone?