Jessica Altieri

Wine and Water Expert

Premium Water - Immerse Yourself In The Opportunities

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By Jessica Altieri, Internationally Certified Water Sommelier

The market for bottled water remains impressively strong, but the real action—and opportunity—is now found in the category of premium waters.

Reports from Business Insider, Euromonitor International, Beverage Daily, and a host of others indicate that significant profit-potential exists in the premium bottled-water segment.

In April 2019, I delivered a presentation explaining why affluent and non-affluent consumers alike are increasingly clamoring for premium bottled water. The following information reiterates and enlarges upon the points I made, and suggests ways that you can successfully leverage the demand for this luxury product.

WHAT IS ‘PREMIUM’ WATER?

Basically, bottled water qualifies as premium if it possesses one or more exceptional qualities—actual or perceived—that set it apart from mainstream products and justify a price far exceeding the market average.

One defining characteristic of premium water is provenance. Water sourced from an exotic or far-off-the-beaten-path location (such as a spring atop a towering mountain or a wall of ice on the face of a ruthlessly difficult-to-access glacier) will allow it to be classified as premium. This is particularly true when the geologic composition of the source naturally infuses the water with a distinctive mineral content that contributes exceptional flavor, function, higher-level purity, or some combination of these.

Source can also help endow water with a compelling image—essential for convincing consumers that the product is worth the high dollar-amount printed on its tag. However, a suitably posh image can be created not only by provenance but by placement: stocking a particular brand of bottled water exclusively in upscale shops and restaurants can cause it to be associated with a luxury lifestyle or luxury experience. Similarly, a suitable image can be fashioned by marketing campaigns and social-media outreach that tell a unique, fascinating backstory about the product.

PREMIUM WATER BY THE NUMBERS

Beverage Daily reports that $16.5 billion worth of premium bottled water was sold worldwide in 2017 (the most recent year for which figures were available). That sum represents a 48-percent gain since 2012.

It’s not simply that the wealthy consumers who all along have bought premium water are now drinking more of it. It’s that consumers lower down the economic scale also are purchasing the product and increasing their consumption. Indeed, premium-water consumption between 2012 and 2017 grew 26 percent, In 2017 alone, consumers drank nearly 3-billion gallons of it.

Seventy-two percent of the world’s premium water market is situated in Western Europe. But it’s in North America where the greatest growth can be observed–13 percent per year. By comparison, Europe grows at just 3 percent (the Middle East and Asia each grow at 6 percent).

As to pricing, consumers pay a global average of 150 percent more for a bottle of premium water than they do for one not labeled as such. However, in markets where consumers most enthusiastically prize premium water, the price of a bottle averages 800 percent more than that of non-premium water.

SEVEN KEY TRENDS DRIVING THE THIRST FOR PREMIUM

There are seven exploitable trends driving the current success of ultra-premium water, expanding it from a niche product to one with substantial mainstream appeal.

❶   PREMIUMIZATION

More consumers are making more money than they have in quite a while. As a result, they possess an abundance of disposable income. Consequently, more of them are freely spending on products they might before have hesitated to purchase. Premium water is one such example. Newly minted high-net-worth individuals typically employ some of their available cash to trade up—that is, to acquire better, more expensive versions of goods they customarily use; bottled water, for example. Less affluent consumers are engaged in much the same thing—the difference being that they tend to offset the cost of up-trading by buying fewer of the products or services to which they feel little or no emotional attachment (or engagement).

   HYDRATION

Consumers show no sign of becoming less mindful about their health. A facet of health receiving greater attention is hydration.

According to Datamonitor, “[c]onsumers are more aware than ever of the health benefits of staying hydrated [and that] drinking more water is one of the key lifestyle changes they’ve made to improve their health.”

Datamonitor adds that fully one-third of consumers pay a moderate amount of attention to whether they're adequately hydrated throughout the day. Thirty-one percent give it a great deal of attention. And 21 percent are fully invested and impassioned. Altogether, 85 percent of consumers place the matter of hydration near or at the forefront of their thinking. With ever-growing frequency, these health-conscious consumers see premium water as an excellent source of hydration due to its actual or perceived functional benefits. Thus, luxury positioning of the product does not deter them, but in fact adds value and thereby helps lead to a purchase decision.

❸   CHOICE EDITORS

Consumers increasingly seek (and find) tools to navigate a sea of product choices that once seemed overwhelming. They also are increasingly willing to use those tools to extensively educate themselves about a product’s features, benefits, and reputation ahead of making a decision to buy. These tools, coupled with the spread of internet access, enabled water to evolve from a generic product to one that is branded and, now, to one that exudes luxury.

Growth in internet access has been the key to reducing information anxiety and facilitating connections with choice editors (persons or services/platforms that help narrow the options in order to simplify consumers’ decision-making processes). In 2000, the number of adults accessing the internet at home via broadband was less than 5 percent. Of those relative few, the number saying they found themselves overwhelmed by the abundance of information sources stood at about 60 percent. But just five years later, adults with online access at home jumped to approximately 35 percent, while those complaining of being overwhelmed by information-source availability dropped to around 40 percent. Today, the vast majority of adults have home access to the internet via broadband and few are those who disagree with the statement "I always know how to get the information I need to make decisions."

❹   NEW LUXURY

The demand for luxury is growing, but the defining traits are evolving: from merely owning the product to the experience of using it; from simply knowing what to buy to knowing why to buy it. Still, it is useful to bear in mind that luxury categories always exists, no matter whether the economy is good or bad. There is always demand for luxury products. However, the demand is broadest and most robust in times of plenty, as is the case today. In the past, luxury was embodied by things material—a yacht, a diamond ring, a bespoke silk suit. Today, luxury is also embodied by things experiential, both physical and emotional. Premium bottled water is both a material good and a physical/emotional experience. It is new luxury.

With regard to experience, feelings play a significant role. More and more, though, the way consumers feel about a product is shaped not entirely by their actual experience with it but, rather, by their knowledge of it. Knowledge can be gained from a variety of sources. Social-media friends and celebrity influencers are among the key avenues by which consumer knowledge is spread. Another is backstorytelling. For example, one of the world's most expensive coffees is kopi luwak, which retails at up to $100 for a single demitasse. The extreme challenges involved in producing it justify kopi luwak’s astronomical price. But it's the backstory that injects the necessary cachet—and because of it, consumers seldom blanch at paying so much for that tiny cup (the backstory here is that this coffee comes from a rare bean eaten and partially digested by an Asian tree cat whose digestive system’s enzymes become trapped in the beans and are believed to confer exceptional health benefits on humans).

Consumer age is another factor in determining luxury designation. For example, the younger a consumer is, the more he or she will prefer to spend money on experiences instead of material objects. Seventy-six percent of Millennials feel this way—and they are poised to soon become the largest group of consumers.

❺   GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE

 In the U.S., burgeoning international influences combined with a high degree of openness have led Millennials to embrace products and experiences from around the world. A survey by the Yankelovich Monitor finds that 60 percent of Millennials agree with the statement that “in the last 20 years, the really interesting products and ideas are those that we bring over from other countries or cultures." Not quite 40 percent of Gen-Xers share that sentiment, as do barely 30 percent of Boomers, the survey reveals.

The lesson is that highlighting international provenance is always a good idea. Consider that Barkley's Study of American Millennials discovered young consumers are massively in favor of sampling all that the planet offers. In other words, comparatively few have tastes that run toward the exclusively provincial or domestic. Therefore, premium waters sourced from faraway places can expect to receive a warm welcome from Millennials, first and foremost.

❻   CREATIVITY

More than any other generation, Millennials value creativity—not only as a means of self-expression but as a tool to navigate the constantly changing world around them. Creativity as a brand value, expressed through design or story, will make a water even more compelling. We have long witnessed this in sales of beer, for example: beer brands seen as more creative are taking drinkers from brands seen as less creative; craft beer has averaged 12 percent growth per year for the last 10 years, in significant part because of the creativity associated with many of its brands.

❼   FEMINIZATION OF CULTURE

Women today are less likely to be influenced by men. The reverse is true as well: men are more likely to be influenced by women. A partial result of this trend is that males are increasingly participating in traditionally female activities and making purchases once associated solely with women. Ultimately, male openness to female influence enables even greater creativity, expanding the audience for more “feminine” designs—and for premium bottled water.

HOW TO LEVERAGE THE TRENDS

Clearly there are opportunities in the premium bottled-water category. To take advantage of those opportunities, you should begin mapping out an appropriate game plan.

My recommendation is to start by reviewing your existing water programs.

Look for aspects of those programs that would support the introduction of premium waters. If you can find none, then create a luxury water program from scratch.

In any event, support your introduction by developing a program to educate consumers about the premium waters you offer. The more they know about their choices, the more inclined they will be to say yes when asked if they would like to experience one of your very expensive bottles.

Include in your education program an inward-facing element to train your staff. You will want them equipped to ask of consumers the right questions the right way in order to encourage sales.

Also, if you plan to conduct a premium-water program in the context of a fine-dining establishment, you may find it advantageous to make single-glass servings and bottles of premium waters available with existing wine pairings.

The goal is to make premium water your new beverage channel for generating more revenue in 2019. I am confident you will find that premium water is like a rushing, rising river in that it is unstoppable and quite capable of overflowing the banks.

For more information, contact Jessica Altieri at: jess at jessaltieri dot com

Scientist. Winemaker. Inventor.

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In his spare time, he invented the first wine cooler for Seagrams and Gallo’s Hearty Burgundy. Say hello to Richard Peterson; a chemist, scientist and winemaker. But most importantly, Peterson was a revolutionary inventor. He invented systems that revolutionized #wine production, with his most noted invention the steel barrel pallet in 1975, a system that allowed wineries to stack barrels to the ceiling with a forklift, maximizing space and saving labor costs.  Peterson’s 50-plus years in the wine industry was the basis for his book; The Winemaker. It’s a must read for any wine lover and perfect for the beach! 

You could share a glass of wine with Dick Peterson and hear a story. But it wouldn’t be near enough wine to learn about the history making changes that Dick helped pioneer in the wine industry. You better get a bottle or two…..

Here are a few:

  • The original designer of the steel barrel pallet, which allows wine barrels to be handled mechanically instead of by hand.

  • Invented many wine techniques still in use today, such as ‘no topping, bung-and-roll,’ a practice for barrel aging red wines.

  • Created many successful new wines, including Lancers Vinho Branco in Portugal, the J. Wile line of varietal wines, Seagram’s first wine cooler, and all the original Monterey Vineyard and Taylor California Cellars varietal and generic table and sparkling wines.

Cheers to Dick and his contributions to the wine world!

About Jessica Altieri

Created and led the re-launch of Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach wine program, a Forbes Five Star Hotel Award designation, which included curating the wine program for the opening of Florie's, a partnership with the three-Michelin star Chef Mauro Colagreco.

Internationally trained and certified wine and water sommelier, wine entrepreneur, and innovator with over ten years of experience in the wine, food, and culture market industry. Wine Enthusiast Magazine “40 Under 40 Tastemaker” experienced in curating wine lists for top restaurants and resorts, creating unique tasting experiences worldwide, and managing beverage programs that drive product sales. Founder of Wine Channel TV and industry influencer with extensive digital media knowledge and deep relationships with global winemakers and vintners.

Altieri is a visionary for wine “edutainment;” engaging both novice wine drinkers and experienced enthusiasts around the world with fun, fresh and edgy content. In 2013, she published her first book “Kiss My Glass: Jess Altieri’s ‘NO-BS’ Wine Buying Guide” which is now available on Amazon and in select Walgreens stores.

Sip Luxury With Wine and Water Expert Jessica Altieri

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Buying High End Wine and Premium Water is being driven by a familiar trend. Women today are less likely to be influenced by men and more likely to influence men. – Jessica Altieri

I was honored to speak at the Fine Water Summit in Stockholm, Sweden this past week and present trends for the high end wine and fine water markets. This was the 6th Fine Water Summit hosted by mineral water pioneer Michael Mascha. Jessica Altieri presented an overview on “Liquid Luxury, Critical Trends in the premium water and wine markets for 2019.

Here are some of the highlights from the presentation.

  • Men are increasingly participating in activities and making purchases traditionally seen as feminine.

  • Men’s openness enables even greater creativity, expanding the audience for more “feminine” designs

  • Creativity as a brand value, expressed through design or story, will make a water even more compelling.

  • More than any other generation, millennials value creativity, not only as a means of self-expression but as a tool to navigate the constantly changing world around them.

  • Highlighting international provenance is always a good idea.

  • The growing international influence in the U.S. combined with a high degree of openness has led Millennials to embrace products and experiences from around the world.

  • The brand’s backstory will be critical to consumers looking for the why.

  • The demand for luxury is growing, but the defining traits are evolving: from merely owning the product to the experience of using it; from simply knowing what to buy to knowing why to buy it.

  • Consumer willingness to learn enables categories like water to evolve from generic to branded to luxury

  • “Consumers are more aware than ever of the health benefits of staying hydrated… Drinking more water is one of the key lifestyle changes they’ve made to improve their health.” –Datamonitor

  • Even with a luxury positioning, hydration as a functional benefit will add value

  • Consumers continue to trade up in categories where they feel an emotional attachment –especially beverages -and paying for it by trading down in categories with low emotional engagement.

  • Water increasingly shows opportunities for emotional engagement by tapping into one or more trends

  • Significant profits from rising premium waters trend are being missed.

  • The value consumers place on health and well-being continues to grow, both in terms of the types of
    products they buy and healthier habits overall.

  • Wine’s credentials as a healthier drink will be critical moving forward

  • The brand’s backstory will be critical to consumers looking for the why.

  • It’s about much more than travel. It’s about tapping into an “explorer mindset,” validating Proust’s quote
    that “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Wine is in a good position to help millennials tap into their inner explorer.

  • Boomers remain more open to change at this life-stage than any previous generations. Men, in particular,
    have become more focused on relationships as they’ve aged.

  • Men may see wine, more so than beer or liquor, as something they can share with women.

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Stay in touch with Jessica Altieri, Fine Water and Wine Expert for current trends in the luxury lifestyle market and fine water and high end wine market.

Golf And Wine Perfect Pairing

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Jessica Altieri, Wine and Water Sommelier, meets with Günther Zimmel of Falkensteiner Balance Resort in Südburgenland, Austria. The Falkensteiner Balance Resort Stegersbach is located in the heart of the Burgenland spa region and borders the Styrian thermal spa country. This part of Austria is renowned for its vineyards and fruit orchards. The numerous vineyards and brandy distilleries testify to the long-established art of wine and brandy production of the area.

The Falkensteiner Balance Resort wows with inspiring architecture, an atmosphere of tranquility and relaxation, and is heralded as “one of the best spas in Austria,” with a perfect balance of lifestyle and wellness. The resort consists of 111 spacious rooms, 17 family apartments, and 13 designer suites surrounded by breathtaking gardens. Enjoy holistic acquapura, a “metabolic balance program,” yoga, meditation, Nordic walking, or golf. The resort’s vinotheque takes advantage of the southern Burgenland region’s infamous red wines with a strong character.

The vinotheque is home to the famous “uhudler”—a unique Austrian wine, originating in this Südburgenland region with a rosé color and intense flavor notes of strawberries and black currants. It can also be produced as a white wine. Beyond “uhudler,” the vinotheque offers the opportunity to sample many of the fine Austrian wines from the region. Enjoy an excursion with the resort to the South Styrian Wine Road, comparable to Italy’s Tuscany. The South Styrian Wine Road charms with exquisite wines, taverns with enchanting views, fine dining and rustic hiking trails. Stay tuned to Wine Channel TV for more exclusive “Sip Some Austria” featured videos. Prost!

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6 Luxury Wine Experiences You Need To Try

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How To Create a Luxury Wine Experience With A Sommelier

Imagine having an acclaimed sommelier personally walk you through the new world of wine, showing you perfect pairings and granting you inside access to world-renowned vineyards and winemakers. Experience the adventure of traveling from France to New Zealand to the Napa Valley, all through your eager palate. Taste the difference between varietals and learn the history of Champagne. More importantly, fall in love with the wine lifestyle and join us in a new age for wine.

Personalized tasting experiences offer a unique approach by combining the ancient art of winemaking with the latest trends and technology. Each experience can be enjoyed by either an intimate group or hundreds of guests at a large-scale event.

Discover the world of wine through these personalized experiences with your sommelier.

6 Great Luxury Wine Experiences You can Enjoy With Your Sommelier

●     Unlocking the Mysteries of New Zealand - An exploration of 6 great regions that are taking the U.S. by storm.

●     Neverending Napa-  Discover the new and legendary wine players of Napa.

●     Sonoma Sips - A seasonal adventure in Sonoma’s versatility.

●     Power of Pinot - Be seduced by the world’s sexiest grape.

●     White Out World - Think outside the Chardonnay.  

●     Champagne & Sparkling Wine - Make your next holiday or gathering pop!

Unlocking the Mysteries of New Zealand

Leading the way in sustainability, New Zealand is one of the fastest growing wine regions in the world. As a host and ambassador for New Zealand Wine Day for the past four years, Jessica has the inside scoop on these hot wines taking the U.S. by storm. Through this personalized tasting, you can experience six of the best wine regions in the country including Auckland, Hawkes Bay, Marlborough, Waipara and Central Otago.

Neverending Napa

Known as the “Disneyland for Wine Lovers,” California’s Napa Valley is arguably the best wine region in the world, producing legendary, big-ass cabs that are second to none. This tasting experience offers an array of “A” list wines found in some of America’s best restaurants.

Sonoma Sips

Rustic and authentic, Sonoma may not be “Disneyland,” but it is the oldest wine region in California and produces twice as much wine as the Napa Valley. Often referred to as the “Second City,” this region produces nothing short of first rate wines. Jess has more than six years’ experience in the Sonoma region and offers in-depth tastings, including a review of the largest AVA in Sonoma County and six AVA’s of Northern Sonoma.

Power of Pinot

Pinot Noir, the world’s sexiest wine, is also known as the “heartbreak grape,” and for good reason - this little gem is the most difficult and most expensive varietal to grow. Requiring warm days and cool nights to ripen, Pinot is an unruly grape that can only be tamed by the world’s finest winemakers. Explore the power of Pinot through its origins in France to the new and upcoming regions of the New World.

Escape to the White Grape

You know what they say - where there’s Pinot, there’s Chardonnay. These unique grapes enjoy similar climates, so they are often grown together. Just like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay is one-of-a-kind and loved by experienced and inexperienced wine lovers alike. Yet, it’s not the only white wine out there. In fact, there are many options available for those who prefer white vs red. Let Jessica guide you through an exploration of the lesser known wines from around the world, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Moscato and Verdicchio.

Champagne & Sparkling Wine

Whether the holidays are approaching or you’re hosting a special event, we know how difficult it can be to find that perfect bottle of Champagne or Sparkling Wine. Your Sommelier will take you through a tasting of some of the best Sparkling Wines (including Moscato), as well as quality Champagnes. While it was first created by accident, Champagne is now a celebrated beverage that is one of the most difficult to produce. Its superior quality is due to centuries of study and development, and Jess is here to break that down for you in person.

Queen of Grapes - The Palm Beacher Magazine

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Thank-you Palm Beacher Magazine for the wonderful article and feature. Humbled and grateful for the opportunity to share my passion and journey with wine and water with your readers. Cheers to  all!

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Jessica Altieri is the Wine Director and Resort Wine and Water Sommelier at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Palm Beach and lead the re-launch of Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach wine program, a Forbes Five Star Hotel Award designation and introduction of the first water program globally for Four Seasons Resorts

How To Win and Wine March Madness 2019

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March Madness 2019 Winning Wine Pairings

As a former NCAA Hooper, I’ve loved sports my whole life.

March Madness and game day pairings featured big, bold Cabernets with Italian Beef or Grilled Italian Sausages for hoops fanatics, and a smooth crisp Sauvignon Blanc for party fanatics.

March Madness calls for stepping up your pregame meal options, I’m talking pulled pork sandwiches, buffalo wings with Stone Arrogant Bastard Chipotle BBQ sauce, gourmet fries(garlic parmesan please!) and beer battered fish tacos…Just add some Malbec to go with the Pork and a nice refreshing Riesling to contrast those spicy wings, and let the pre-game NCAA March Madness  wine lifestyle begin!

Looking for something to pair with those cheese balls? Try a nice creamy Chardonnay. A vibrant Sauv Blanc would be killer with your veggie tray, like the St. Supery 2015 DollarHide Estate Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc. Rock a zesty Zin like Rock Wall Wine Company Harris Kratka 2010 with your homemade chili or Sloppy Joes.

And don’t forget to bust out the bubbly with your Fried Chicken and fries…Fried foods and sparkling wine are a match made in heaven. And, of course, that bubbly can be used for mimosas the morning after…#Winning …

Wine Picks Under $50:

  • Rock Wall Wine Company 2010 Zinfandel Harris Kratka Vineyard

  • Masottina Brut, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG,

  • Ferrari Perle 2007

  • Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling 2014

  • St. Supery 2015 Dollarhide Estate Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc

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6 Spectacular Ways To Sip Sonoma

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Sommelier Jessica Altieri Shares the Insider Sips to Sonoma

Get ready to discover all the exciting tourist attractions the beautiful Sonoma Wine Country in Northern California has to offer you… and they’re totally free.. yes FREE!

1. Drive Down America’s Most Beautiful Road

California’s state route, called Highway 1, drives past one of the world’s longest and most beautiful coastlines. The cool waters of the Pacific ripple like diamonds under the golden sun. The refreshing breeze dances through the trees. All around you, you see clear, blue sky—calm, serene, and beautiful.

No wonder it’s called the “All American Road.” Take a long drive, or stop at one of the many golden beaches for hours of sun, sea and surf. Get a tan, dive into the water, or settle with a book under the shade. Truly, some of the best things in life are free.

2. Go on a Pt Reyes Hiking Adventure

Over 140 miles of trails, yours for the exploring for the mere price of…your time. You’ll get a free map, where you can follow any of the many biking or hiking trails through one of America’s most famous wilderness reserves. Some of the trees in this area are thousands of years old, and their leaves and branches form a cool natural canopy.

It’s a great way of getting in touch with nature, or even yourself. We’re so used to the hustle and bustle of daily life, that we’ve forgotten how to be still, and listen to our own thoughts.

This marvelous hiking adventure can take you through different terrains of pasture lands, forests and meadowlands—and right into the center of your soul.

3. Run Free at Armstrong Woods

Most of us are cooped up in small office cubicles or condos for most of our days. At Armstrong Woods, you can run free—in over 805 meters of ancient tree groves, nature trails, and numerous picnic facilities. You’ll find the oldest and tallest redwoods in the country, some towering to over 300 feet, and nearly 1,500 years old.

Bond with your family. Play with your kids, chat with your husband (when was the last time you really talked?) or take a long walk alone to meditate in the stillness of the woods. In ancient times, knights and other adventure seekers would go on a retreat before embarking on an important quest. Take this time out and center yourself—and let tomorrow be the beginning of the rest of your life.

4. Go Animal Watching at Bodega Bay

Bodega Bay is Sonoma County’s most popular spot for bird watching. People have spotted some very rare birds here, and more times than in any other area in the county. It’s a favorite destination for members of the Audubon Society—and many of them cite Owl Canyon, Hole in the Head, and the bushes near Diekmann’s Store as their favorite “places of vigil.”

The waters of Bodega Bay are also homes to a thriving community of whales and seals. With just a boat, and a good pair of binoculars, people can see these beautiful animals frolicking in their natural habitat. Better than a zoo, and as close to being in a National Geographic video as you can get—and it’s all for free.

5. Discover Interesting New Art

Maybe it’s the beautiful view, or the convergence of different cultures. California has a bustling art scene, thanks to young and talented individuals. Their visions and expressions are not only beautiful, but inspire everyone to get in touch with their own creative side.

Take an “art trip” at the Arts Council of Sonoma Country Gallery, conveniently located at Santa Rosa’s Downtown Area (right on 529 Fifth Street). It’s open on Wednesday to Friday from 12 - 5 pm, and Saturdays from 12 - 4 pm. For more information, call 707-579-ARTS or visit http://www.artrails.org

6. Rediscover Rustic Americana

Tired of the urban rush? Dreaming of a quieter, simpler life? Be a farmer for one day with the free Farm Trails map. It’ll take you through the abundant fields of Sonoma Country. Go berry picking, feed the sheep and llamas, chase after butterflies, and buy freshly picked fruit straight from the farmer.

You can also visit wineries, breweries and cheese factories. Don’t think of it as an extended grocery trip—it’s a chance to enjoy rustic Americana and (for at least a few hours) know how it feels like to retire to the countryside.

Mineral Wealth – Your Guide to Fine Water

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Jessica Altieri | Water Sommelier

Introduction

Where does your water come from?

It’s not something we think about every day when we turn on the tap. But let me ask you this…when you have a choice, do you prefer to order a mineral water?

Mineral water tastes better because of where it comes from.

When it bubbles forth from layers of rock in the ground, or filters down through high mountains, it brings with it a combination of minerals in various strengths. This is what gives it taste. This is its ‘terroir’, as wine buffs call the environment the grape comes from.

So, it follows that natural mineral waters have different tastes. And because of that, they taste better with certain food and wine. Some waters bring out the best in your coffee bean or tea leaf. Others are great for replenishing your mineral deficiency after exercise.

Come with me on an adventure through the world’s great mineral waters and I’ll show you…not all water is equal.

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Types of Water

Let’s start by looking at the various types of water you drink and define exactly what they are.

·        Tap: Originates from large wells, lakes, rivers or reservoirs and is processed as per Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards

·        Spring: Originates from a confirmed spring source. It may contain minerals, but non-mineral spring water is common. Check the label.

·        Mineral: Contains at least 250 parts per million (ppm) of trace minerals. 

It originates from underground water source and natural carbonation is common

·        Still or Sparkling: Some mineral waters have natural carbonation. Others are still. Some waters have carbonation added artificially, like soda waters.

·        Seltzer: Artificial carbonation added to water

·        Club Soda: Has added flavour

·        Tonic Water: Is bitter in taste and has calories

·        Artesian: Uses an Artesian Aquifier to pump water from deeper layers to the surface

Water’s Terroir: Really a Thing?



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We regularly discuss the terroir of wine but the way in which the geographic region affects the flavor and properties of wine, is also applicable to fine mineral water. Marrying and melding with its minerals and rainfall, landscape and soil, water – as much as wine – has a strong element of terroir.

The main components of terroir are all represented in the waters of the world, especially those that are bottled for consumption. Climate: check. Everything is subject to weather. Soil and terrain: check. All water flows through it to end up underground, mingling with minerals. Tradition: check. Many of the great water companies will tell you on their websites exactly how they harvest their water. 

Terroir? Water has it in spades.

Different terroirs produce varying levels of minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium and Sodium. These minerals, which are present at different levels based on geography and other factors, have a marked impact on the taste and mouthfeel of water.

So, as you might expect, different kinds of water pair better with different types of food, just as wine does. Additionally, the quality and type of water used in coffee and tea have a significant impact on the taste of the beverage and can also alter the taste profile of a glass of wine or an entire meal.

How to Assess Your Water

First, look at the label, just as you would with a wine. This will tell you something of its terroir but will also indicate the level of minerals in the water

·        Very Low: 50mg/l

·        Low: 500mg/l

·        Medium: 1,000mg/l

·        High: 1,500mg/l

Next get the mouthfeel. Isn’t that a great word? Are you rolling your tongue around your mouth already? So try it with a mineral water. Mouthfeel, or the sensation of the water in the mouth, is the first thing we notice when we take a swig of life-giving water. Highly carbonated water has a bright, lively and distinct mouthfeel: You know it’s happening.

On the other hand, still water is a smoother experience. In between, there are variances in the carbonation, or effervescence (another great word) in different mineral waters. That’s why learning to tell them apart is interesting and fun.

After mouthfeel, the next thing you’re looking for is TDS – total dissolved solid. This is how connoisseurs measure the ‘bite’ of the water. The more minerals that are dissolved into the water, the crisper it tastes … to a point. After that point, water becomes heavy and unpleasant. Somewhere on the scale you’ll find the one that appeals to you or suits your choice of wine and food.

Why not have your own water tasting at home? Choose contrasting waters with different mineral contents and carbonation. Compare the texture and the mouthfeel. You’ll quickly learn to differentiate between them. Now your ready to move on to the fun stuff…pairing your water with wine and food.

Matching Your Water with Your Meal

You’re already pairing your wine with your food – a full-bodied red with a steak, a crisp white with fish or salad, perhaps a sparkling wine with a spicy food. So, it stands to reason that if you match your water to your wine, you’re automatically matching it to your food.  

At one end of the scale, a full-bodied red wine will sit well with a water which has high-mineral content while white wine goes better with a low-mineral content.

Mineral water is perfect with hors d’oeuvre and, in a more reserved state, with salads and desserts. Pair a tray of oysters with a delicate mineral water – fine bubbles and high minerality. Great textures going on here!

On the other hand, still water is perfect for lighter seafood and soup, as it won’t overpower the dish, while lightly effervescent water goes well with poultry. In the case of a lighter red meat dish, you can get away with bubbly once more. Just like a big, bold red wine stands up to a steak, a big, bold bubbly water would be a perfect match as well.

Dessert goes well with a still, slightly carbonated water.

Coffee, just like good wine or cognac, has about a thousand notes influencing every blend and brew. Roasters work hard to identify the right beans, source them from the right regions and roast them just the right amount. While you might think a blank slate de-mineralized water is best for coffee, not so. Minerals such as magnesium, calcium and sodium bring out the piquancy of coffee’s many lively notes and are a crucial addition to any brewing water.

Tea is best brewed in spring water with low mineral content, a pH of 7 and a TDS of 30ppm. Strong mineral content can leave tea with a metallic taste.

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Mineral Benefits

The good news is that mineral water is good for you. We all know our bodies need vitamins and minerals for optimum health, so how great to have a drink that contains those minerals.

Here’s what you’re likely find in a fine water…and just look at the benefits.

·        Sodium: Helps to regulate your blood pressure and prevent blood clots.

·        Magnesium: Fuels the heart, blood and nerves and is a natural muscle builder. Magnesium deficiency can result in muscle cramps.

·        Calcium: You know you can get calcium from milk and cheese but isn’t it great to know you can get ot from mineral water, too. Calcium improves bone strength, teeth and nails

·        Silicon (silicic acid): The ‘wellness’ mineral, Silicon is important in the formation of collagen, which keeps your skin looking healthy.

·        Chloride: Creates blood and pH balance and aids digestion

·        Sulfates: Aid digestion

·        Hydrogen Carbonate: Regulates body pH

Minerals are critical when working out. Many people don’t know, in fact, that they’re almost as important as water itself, and that without them, you can actually be poisoned by the life-giving liquid. Specific waters have more of certain replenishing salts and elements, such as magnesium, calcium, sulfur and potassium. Now you can sweat without worrying about the consequences.

For The Love of Pizza - #National Pizza Day

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Sommelier Perfect Pizza Pairing for #National Pizza Day

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Lets talk about pizza. And make sure you visit Pisolino Chicago for this special Giacomino Pizza! It’s our perfect wine and pizza pairing!

The pizza pie is an ubiquitous symbol of both Italian cooking and Americana. Oven-baked, thin-crust or deep-dish, round or square, it is a common favorite throughout the United States, with a wide number of regional variations.

The most traditional pie is the pizza Napolitano, or Neapolitan pizza. Made of strong flour, the dough is often kneaded by hand and then rolled flat and thin without a rolling pin. The pizza is cooked in an extremely hot wood-fired stone oven for only sixty to ninety seconds, and is removed when it is soft and fragrant. Common varieties of Neapolitan pizza include marinara, made with tomato, olive oil, oregano, and garlic, and margherita, made with tomato, olive oil, fresh basil leaves, and mozzarella cheese.

New York was home to the first pizza parlor in the United States, opened in Little Italy in 1905 by Gennaro Lombardi. It is not surprising, then, that New York-style pizza dominates in the Northeastern part of the country. It is thin-crusted, and made with a thin layer of sauce and grated cheese. The dough is hand-tossed, making the pie large and thin. As a result, it is served cut into slices, traditionally eight, which are often eaten folded in half. It can be served with any number of toppings, including pepperoni, the most popular topping in the United States, or as a “white pizza”, which includes no tomato sauce and is made with a variety of cheeses, such as mozzarella and ricotta.

Chicago is also home to a major variety of pizza.The Chicago-style pizza is deep dish, meaning it is made in a pan with the crust formed up the sides, or even with two crusts and sauce between, a so-called “stuffed” pizza. The ingredients are “reversed” in a Chicago pizza, with cheese going in first, and then sauce on top. This particular form of pizza was invented in 1943 at Uno’s Pizzeria in the River North neighborhood of Chicago.

The Midwest also plays host to the St. Louis style pizza. This thin-crust delicacy is made using local provel cheese instead of mozzarella, and is very crispy. Heavily seasoned with oregano and other spices, with a slightly sweet sauce, it is difficult to fold because of the crust and is often cut into squares, instead of served in slices.

A Hawaiian pizza is an American invention that has nothing to do with Hawaii save that one of the main ingredients is pineapple. The pineapple is put atop the pizza, along with Canadian bacon, giving a rather sweet taste very different from pizzas closer to the Italian original. Hawaiian pizza is very common in the Western United States.

In fact, a number of esoteric pizzas are common on the West coast, and “gourmet” pizza is often referred to as “California-style” pizza. This is an example of fusion cuisine, and many of the pizzas go far beyond the common tomato sauce and cheese. Thai pizza, for example, can include bean sprouts and peanut sauce, while breakfast pizza, as the name implies, may be topped with bacon and scrambled eggs. As a “gourmet” food, California pizzas are often individual sized, serving two people at most, and are not cut in slices like other common types of pizza pie.

Pizza is as diverse as America itself, with almost infinite variations – all of them delicious. Pizza and wine anytime is our saying!

The Sophisticated Sip – How to Taste and Enjoy Great Water

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Your choice of water will connect you with another time and place.

Time…more than half the water in the world is older than the sun burst of 4.6 million years ago. Imagine, ancient ice drifting in space through the ages, making its way slowly to the mountain peaks of our planet, filtering through mineral rock for decades to be poured into your glass today. When you make your choice of this pure, essential, life-giving drink, you tap into time.

Place…your water can come to you from exotic places such as the pristine Arctic, from volcanic regions of Germany, Denmark’s lake highlands and wells of Italian provinces. Drink in the atmosphere, the scenery. The unique rock and ice formations of these regions have imparted their benefits to you. Soak up the sense of place that comes to you in a clear bottle of perfection.

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1.    What to Look For

Your taste buds will have their own preference for the level of carbonation, sodium and minerals in your choice of fine water. In other words, how bubbly or salty do you like it? How much do you enjoy a mineral aftertaste? Do you like a little bite in your water, or do you prefer it smooth? No two fine waters are the same. Your adventure through them will lead you to favorites…or to the best waters to accompany your meal and wine.

2.    Terroir

Just like wine, water is a product of its environment. Some fine waters emerge from limestone karst, others come through volcanic rock, yet more flow down through high mountains. Their journey accounts for the mineral content they have acquired en route and for their individuality.

3.    Dining Out

Pair your water to your wine first; then consider your meal. Subtle dishes are best matched with smooth waters which have lower levels of minerals and carbonation. Strong foods taste better with stronger waters. Enjoy making the connections.

4.    Working Out

If you are taking your water to the gym, you’re making a healthy choice; mineral water will help to replace the salts and minerals you lose working out. Think calcium, magnesium, sodium, and all that your body needs.

5.    The Hard Facts

Mineral water is defined in law by its mineral content, which ranges from 50 milligrams per liter to 1,500mg/L. The term ‘spring water’ is used a little more loosely, so check the label to make sure you are getting a fine water from a good source.

6.    The Aroma

There isn’t one…and there shouldn’t be. No swirling of glasses under the nose required, but if you detect an unpleasant whiff, something is wrong.

7.    Killing Your Dinner Wine

The purity of your mineral water makes it a much better accompaniment to fine wine than regular waters, which may spoil the taste of wine with its impurities.

8.    Amateur Hour

Adding lemon or lime is a mistake. Good mineral water has its own taste. Don’t spoil it.

Each water has a different character, a variance in carbonation and sodium content to appeal to the discerning palette.

Make your selection, drink deeply and savor its time and place.

Jessica Altieri | Certified Water Sommelier


Sip Where The Kangaroos Roam

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f you want to know about wine and Australia, you talk to Daryl Groom.Wine Channel TV host Jessica Altieri is joined by legendary winemaker Daryl Groom of Groom Wines. 34 million kangaroos roam where this wine is made. Join us for a #BestSipEver feature segment on Wine Channel TV.

How about this for a background in the wine industry:

San Francisco Chronicle – Winemaker of the Year
Dallas Morning News – Publishers Award, Winemaker of the Year
Houston Chronicle – Winemaker of the Year
Los Angeles Times – Winemaker of the Year
Mead on Wine – Winemaker of the Year
Food & Wine – One of 11 Visionaries to Change the World of Wine
Dallas – TV Munson Award for International Accomplishment
IWSC – International Winemaker of the Year

Daryl resides in the USA. In addition to being “Flying Winemaker” for Groom, Daryl is Winemaker and Owner for DXG Wines in California and is partner with Social Grapes, an exciting new wine social networking phone app and website. Daryl also proudly launched Colby Red Wine in 2011. This wine was conceived and inspired by his son Colby. The wine raises money for charities that promote heart health and research. 

Prior to this he has held numerous positions in the Wine Industry including Vice President of Winemaking & Operations for Peak Wines International and Beam Wine Estates and both Senior White Winemaker and then Senior Red Winemaker for Penfolds Wines in Australia. His foundation was producing Penfolds famed red wine, Grange, which he oversaw from 1984 until his move to the USA in 1990. Daryl makes regular trips back to South Australia to oversee all winemaking operations for Groom to ensure the highest quality product.

Stay tuned for another #BestSipEver feature segment on Wine Channel TV!

Women and Wine Pitch Perfect

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80% of car buying decisions are now influenced by women.

Wine Channel TV host Jessica Altieri joined Joe Perillo, CEO of Bentley Gold Coast in Chicago to talk about the changes and influence women have in the luxury auto and wine lifestyle marketplace.

It’s not by accident that women are taking power in a rising number of areas in our daily lives; from political, sports to hi-tech.  For the first time in the history of the auto industry, a Frost & Sullivan report finds that the number of women with driving licenses (DL) in the U.S. over took that of men, not just in one of the young age groups, but consistently across all age groups greater than 25.

From the Frost and Sullivan report, “Although it is hard to make predictions on trends related to car ownership, it is clear that 80 percent of car buying decisions are now influenced by women“.

Check out the video with Joe Perillo and find out how the leading luxury auto dealer in Chicago embraces the new age of women auto buyers. Women and Wine is our featured video segment this month on Wine Channel TV.


How To Sip Luxury

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First ingredient: 2018 Bentley Continental GT; offered only as a four-seat convertible, it is available with just one powertrain: a 582-hp 6.0-liter W-12 engine paired with an eight-speed transmission. “The new Continental GT features clean, superformed lines and a wide, low body, evoking a sense of speed and presence,” explains the website, adding that the car was “created for agile, exhilarating driving.” Oh, and it’s green, too! With best-in-class fuel emissions, you can now drive a smidge too fast without worrying about Mother Earth. Yay!

Add: Svalbarði Polar Iceberg Water; water from melted icebergs - calved freshly from the fjords around Svalbard, just 1,000 kilometres from the North Pole - provide the source for Svalbarði’s pure water. Iceberg waters are some of the rarest in the world due to the difficulty of gathering this arctic water.  Onsite and hosting the VIP luxury event this past week for the Chicago launch of the  2018 Bentley Continental GT at Gold Coast Bentley. Congratulations to Joe Perillo and Cesar Marin from from Gold Coast Bentley for the "Perfect Sip of Luxury".

A Water Sommelier is someone educated on the properties of water and the elements that affect it. Training includes identification of the terroir, which is the manner in which the geographic region affects the flavor and properties of the water before settling in the location from which it is sourced for drinking. Different terroirs produce varying levels of minerals such as Calcium, Magnesium and Sodium. These minerals, which are present at different levels based on geography and other factors, have a marked impact on the taste and mouthfeel of water.

Different kinds of water pair better with different types of food, just like wine. Additionally, the quality and type of water used in coffee and tea have a significant impact on the taste of the beverage and can also alter the taste profile of a glass of wine or an entire meal.

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Jessica's innovative, sophisticated, but humble approach has established her as one of the world's most sought-after millennial-aged professional wine judges and tasting experts. In conjunction with her work with lifestyle brands in food, fashion, retail and hi-tech, Jessica Altieri is undeniably an innovative authority in the wine lifestyle industry.

About Jessica Altieri

Jessica Altieri is a wine expert and sought-after wine judge and was recently named as one of the "40 under 40" to watch in the food and beverage industry by "Wine Enthusiast" magazine. Altieri is the CEO of The Wine Channel TV network and hosts a popular wine podcast on Revolver called "Wine Conversations with Jessica Altieri." She has been a lifestyle contributor to CNBC, Yahoo! News, ABC7 Chicago and ESPN Radio, among others.

Say Hello To Champagne’s Hip Younger Sibling - Pét-Nat

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“Pét-nat is a product of the easiest method by which to get bubbles into a wine, and it was the first way sparkling wine was produced – hence the name méthode ancestrale,” says Altieri, who loves sourcing effervescent Mauzac pét-nats from Limoux and Gaillac in the south of France, as well as crisp whites from the Loire Valley. “I like to call it Champagne’s hip younger sibling; it’s ideal with creamy cheeses like chèvre or a scrumptious charcuterie board.”


How To Pair Water Perfectly with A Water Sommelier

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Pairing Water and Food: A Crash Course

Certified Water Sommelier Jessica Altieri has some tips and secrets on why and how to pair water with your holiday food celebrations. Think of it as a holiday present to you and your guests

Just like wine, water has a myriad of different flavors and qualities blending to crate the end taste and perception. Understanding these qualities not only makes for a better meal, it makes you a more interesting person to talk to at a cocktail party. And especially when you’re holding a bourbon with branch water (look it up), that’s important.

Mouthfeel Matters

Mouthfeel, or the sensation of the water in the mouth, is the first thing we notice when we take a swig of life-giving water. Highly carbonated water has a bright, lively and distinct mouthfeel: You know it’s happening. Mineral water is perfect with hors d’oeuvre and, in a more reserved state, with salads and desserts.

On the other hand, still water is perfect for seafood and soup, and for red meat. Lightly effervescent water goes well with poultry. In the case of a lighter red meat dish, you can get away with bubbly once more.

Other Watery Qualities

The dissolved solid content is the next most distinct element. The more minerals are dissolved into the water, the crisper it tastes … to a point. After that point, water becomes heavy and unpleasant. pH factor also makes a flavor difference, as no one loves an acidic drink with any food.

Lastly, a water’s story. That, while intangible, is an important aspect of any drink, and just because we must have water to survive makes it no less important to understand its roots. Luckily, most artisanal water makers have a pretty darn good one, so look into it.

Notes from the Roasting Room

If you consider coffee a food, loosely, then it matters here too. While you might think a blank slate de-mineralized water is best for coffee, not so. Minerals such as magnesium, calcium and sodium bring out the piquancy of coffee’s many lively notes, and are a crucial addition to any brewing water.

Overwhelmed yet? The wide world of water wisdom has yet to be fully unfurled, but tastemakers are here to ensure that road gets paved. One such is Jessica Altieri Fine Water Sommelier, who would love to help you learn more about the role of water in your tummy, your kitchen and your world.

How To Make Great Coffee with a Water Sommelier

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Does Water Really Matter To Make a Great Cup of Tea or Coffee?

Certified Water Sommelier Jessica Altieri has some thoughts on why and how to make your own “worlds best” tea and coffee for the holidays. Think of it as a holiday present to yourself that keep son giving every time you need to make a great cup of tea or coffee. Does water really matter in making a great cup of tea or coffee? Make your own decision.

Here are some facts to think about to make a great cup of tea or coffee:

·         From Zhang Dafu (tea master of the Qing dynasty): "The quality of a good cup of tea depends on 20% of the tea itself and 80% of water used.“

·         Coffee is about 95% water, tea even 99%.  I know this is being “captain obvious”, but its worth seeing in print.

What is “hard water” and does it have an impact on my cup of tea or water?

Water hardness is defined as the concentration of dissolved ions of the alkaline earth metals in the water. This means it includes mainly calcium and magnesium ions and traces of strontium and barium.

What the heck is “Carbonate Hardness” and why do I need to know?

Carbonate hardness is the proportion of alkaline earth metal ions bound to hydrogen.

A water is located in the so-called lime - carbonation equilibrium if it contains enough carbon dioxide that it cannot precipitate any lime, but also cannot dissolve any lime. If carbon dioxide is withdrawn from such water, sparingly soluble compounds such as calcite and dolomite form (scale).

Due to the temperature dependence of this equilibrium system, deposits can also form in the preparation of hot water (coffee machine, kettle).

A cup of joe calls for just two ingredients: coffee and water. That’s one of the lovely things about it. It’s just so easy to make this strengthening, heartening brew. But is it actually as easy as you thought?

Hmm. Well there’s the coffee. Not just any old can of Kirkland will do; naturally you want the good stuff from an artisanal roaster. Local if possible, toasted to just the right color, well-balanced and pure. As for water … Oh, you thought you could just turn on the tap, collect a few cupfuls of agua and call it good? Think again, my friend.

Brewing Water Basics

Water, just like the coffee itself, isn’t a simple ingredient. Both are more akin to wine than we give them credit for: nuanced, complicated, gently redolent of a thousand different scents and flavors. Luckily your roaster takes care of the beans for you. But the water?

For starters, nail down the basics. The Special Coffee Association of America publishes guidelines concerning water for brewing coffee. The water should be clear, without chlorine or odors. Water filtration devices are a pretty easy way to accomplish this, though the pitchers tend to be small: try a faucet-mounted device instead.

Mineral Content Matters

The hardness of the water also matters. While water softeners are commonly used at home to prevent minerals from lining the insides of pipes, washing machines and so on, some people advocate that hard water makes a better cup of coffee, because minerals such as magnesium and calcium – good for you, by the way – bring out coffee’s flavor.

That’s the foundation of game-changers such as Third Wave Water, which add minerals back in to de-mineralized water to make them perfect for brewing. That way, if you have to soften your water at home (remove its minerals), you can still make a great cuppa.

Want to learn more about water? We invite you to get in touch with Jessica Altieri Fine Water Sommelier today.