No results

    “Water is vital for our future”: Water sommeliers like Dirk Scheu know everything about this precious liquid

    You need to accept cookies to use this functionality.
    25. August 2021
    7:55 min.
    Dirk Scheu, a long-standing Krones employee, is a freshly minted water sommelier. In this interview, he tells us more about this out-of-the-ordinary training course.
    • With 34 years of experience in the field, Dirk Scheu is a genuine water expert. From 2008 to 2021, he has worked in specialised sales and marketing for water treatment technology at Krones. Although he has meanwhile taken early retirement, the certified water sommelier continues to advise Krones on all things water.

    Sommelier is the French word for a wine steward, who is not only responsible for serving wine but is also a knowledgeable expert. Though originally meant for wine, there are now sommeliers for many foods and beverages, including water.

    Dirk Scheu is a freshly minted water sommelier and a definite expert in this field, something vividly demonstrated by his CV. After graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Applied Sciences in Reutlingen, he has for 34 years (from 1987 up till now) worked for various companies – and his remit was invariably centred on water treatment. 

    He joined Krones AG in 2008, and most recently worked in specialised sales and marketing for the Hydronomic water treatment system. In mid-2021, Dirk Scheu took early retirement but he continues to advise Krones on anything to do with water.

    In our interview, he shared some interesting details about this out-of-the-ordinary job or – as in his case – this unusual hobby.

    Mr Scheu, what can possibly make water so exciting that you want to become a sommelier for it?
    When you have dealt with a vast array of technologies for water treatment for over 30 years both in theory and in practice – from engineering and installation right through to commissioning and later on in sales as well – then it is only natural that you develop a deeper interest in the subject of water and get involved in complementary topics as well. That is precisely what being a sommelier means. It does not mean that you have to have special skills or talents in the field.

    I was lucky enough to get to know Dr. Peter Schropp of the Doemens Academy, who would later be my instructor, at a table-water tasting. Thanks to my time at Krones AG, I did actually know how to produce fine-tasting table water. But I hadn’t fully realised the vital role played in this context by the water’s various ions. And that is in fact important knowledge, especially for the experts at Krones, because our customers are increasingly approaching us with questions relating to the formulation and taste of water. As I see it, water is a very exciting topic.

    And how do you become a water sommelier?
    In my case, I attended an eight-day course at the Doemens Academy in Gräfelfing during my spare time in 2020. Demand for this course is huge, and it was pure coincidence that I managed to get hold of a free spot. The course addressed a wide range of aspects in regard to water, starting with the worldwide water situation, then the importance of drinking enough right through to basic sensory prerequisites, to name just a few of the far more than 20 subjects covered.

    The great number of different mineral waters, their categorisation and the laws that apply for their labelling then constitute important sections of the written examination at the end of the course. The final exam also includes a practical part, which covers subjects like water and wine or mineral water in the hospitality industry.

    What does a water sommelier do?
    As a water sommelier or sommelière, you are an ambassador for or advisor on anything to do with water in various fields: In the hospitality industry, a water sommelier can recommend to guests a water that pairs perfectly with their meal or wine. A water sommelier might also advise customers at cash-and-carry stores, who without the opportunity to sample the waters likely wouldn’t know that different waters actually taste different.

    Moreover, the water bottle’s label tells the sommelier whether the water in question is suitable for people who do a lot of sports, for example, or for women to counter osteoporosis, for an upcoming party, and so on. Quite apart from all this, a water sommelier training course is in my view a highly sensible complement for anyone whose job involves water in any way.


    What water constituents can you identify by taste?
    By definition, pure water – H2O – is neutral, that is, its pH value is 7. But if you were to taste such pure water, you would certainly say it has a sour or even bitter taste. In actual fact, though, water is only “sour” (acidic) when its pH value is below 7. When its pH value is above 7, it is referred to as “alkaline”.

    So why does neutral water taste sour or bitter? Because the “water” it is compared to is your own saliva. This is the neutral medium: You don’t yourself taste it, but it does contain a great number of different ions (“salts”) that are now absorbed by the pure water. And your taste buds react to the change in the saliva’s composition.

    From a certain concentration upwards (that must be above the detection threshold), you can, of course, sensorially identify various salts. The best-known among them is table salt, or in chemical terms sodium chloride (NaCl = one sodium ion and one chloride ion). If the water contains more than 200 milligrams per litre of this, it can already be identified as slightly salty. If we replace sodium with magnesium, the water’s taste tends to be bitter, for some also sweet. As you can see, water can taste quite different depending on its constituents.

    Does that take you to the point where you are able to identify different water brands in a blind tasting?
    If the water brands exhibit significant differences and can be tasted beforehand, that is conceivable. However, I don’t think it’s possible to distinguish between them in a genuine blind tasting, given the sheer diversity of brands on the market: There are more than 500 different mineral waters in Germany alone.

    What other constituents – apart from the ions – have an effect on a water’s aroma? 
    Carbonic acid (which yields carbon dioxide and water) influences the haptic experience when you’re drinking the water and, as indicated by the term “carbonic acid”, causes the water’s pH value to go down into the acidic milieu.

    What table water is permitted to contain

    The treatment processes approved for mineral water and table water essentially cover:

    • separation of volatile constituents like iron and sulphur compounds by means of filtration or decantation,
    • separation of iron, manganese and sulphur compounds, plus arsenic, using air, and
    • complete or partial removal of free carbonic acid by means of physical processes.
    25. August 2021
    7:55 min.

    You can easily send a request for a non-binding quotation in our 

    Request new machine