From Seltzer to Pellegrino
Not all sparkling waters are equal
. There are two distinguishing characteristics to l’eau avec gas: effervescence and flavor. Effervescence refers to the relative aggressiveness of the bubbles. Flavor is generally a reference to the water’s mineral content, which adds a subtle undertone; most sparkling waters are neutral in flavor. Seltzer has the strongest bubbles and is usually best for mixing, as its robust effervescence holds up to stirring. Club soda has a touch of salt, but it’s still perfectly acceptable for mixing. France’s Perrier is markedly lighter, and Italy’s San Pellegrino is softer still. Both are preferred for drinking straight. Sparkling waters with more intense flavors come primarily from France and include the moderate Vichy and the stronger Vittel, which is something of an acquired taste. Beware of the sparkling waters that come in fancy signature bottles. These can be fun, as long as you understand that you’re paying extra for the packaging.