Best Sparkling Waters and Setlzer—Best Seltzer Taste Test



This summer time, I requested Amanda Sims if she needed one thing on the grocery retailer: “San Pellegrino,” she specified: “Not Perrier.”

I discovered her predilection to be quirky till I noticed that loyalty to glowing water drinks runs far deeper than only a fizzy means for staying hydrated.

Samantha Weiss-Hills incessantly introduced in her personal private can of La Croix (unflavored or lime) from house—though our previous workplace is supplied with a soda maker—whereas former Food52 intern Taylor Rondestvedt prefers Mendota Springs Sparkling Water, one other Midwestern model.

After which my buddy Rebecca despatched me this picture of the fridge at her Chicago office:

Photograph by Rebecca Levinsky

However do these model loyalties merely develop out of behavior, or have they got a foundation in reality (or at the least in style variations)?

To search out out, we did a blind style take a look at of 17 seemingly comparable merchandise—seltzer water, membership soda, carbonated mineral water, and glowing water—to see if we might inform the distinction. (And to determine if Sam might establish La Croix from the lineup.)

Here is what we concluded:

  • The person merchandise do style and really feel completely different, nevertheless it’s exhausting to inform the classes of drinks aside. (Nobody was capable of establish group 1 as seltzer or group 2 as membership soda, for instance.)

  • And whereas the drinks do style completely different, there was disagreement about how they tasted. One drink was concurrently described as “faucet water”and “flat Champagne”—and this discrepancy was true of each bottle or can. We discovered that the majority variations concerned taste (refined, salty, citrusy) and the bubble expertise (sharp tiny bubbles, giant mellow bubbles, or aggressively tingling bubbles, for instance). “The standard of the bubble is the factor,” concluded one taster.

  • Nobody efficiently recognized which bottles had been most costly. The European-ish, fancy glass bottles that I keep away from on the grocery retailer had been indiscernible from the canned generic variety. One editor pegged the Entire Meals-365 membership soda—one in all our most reasonably priced selections—as “costlier.”

  • Some waters pair higher with meals than others. Although we tried all the glowing drinks with out meals, we think about that consuming alongside sipping would alter the expertise. Aggressive bubbles may assist dissipate the warmth of spicy meals however overpower different sensation; extra delicate carbonation is likely to be extra acceptable for meals with subtler flavors.

  • Temperature in all probability makes a distinction. We tasted all drinks at room temperature, although we think about that they might have been perceived as “extra refreshing” had they been chilled.

  • Sam efficiently recognized La Croix (however Amanda did not appropriately pick Pellegrino).

  • Ingesting this a lot glowing water will make you actually, actually full (and burpy).

The 6 glowing waters.

Glowing water is a broad umbrella time period that can be utilized to explain membership soda, seltzer, or glowing mineral water. Right here had been the 5 bottles that self-identified as “glowing water” and not using a extra particular demarcation.

Entire Meals Model Italian Glowing Water:

This had a “very clear taste” that our tasters predicted got here from a glass bottle (they had been proper!). The flavour was impartial and “inoffensive,” whereas the bubbles had been huge and slow-acting.

Poland Spring:

Whereas some had been postpone by a “plasticky” style, others detected (to borrow a phrase from wine) “minerality.” It is like “sucking on a rock,” mentioned Leslie.

Mountain Valley:

The bubbles had been deemed “excellent: gentle however current.” Every bubble was mentioned to be a definite particular person, popping identifiably on the tongue. This, too, had mineral notes—”however in a great way.”

La Croix:

Samantha appropriately recognized her beloved glowing water, which she calls “summer time in a can.” The bubbles—smaller than a lot of the different drinks—act as in the event that they’re on a “time launch” or a “cascade,” beginning off sturdy and fizzing out slowly on the tongue


Tasters famous a refined sweetness (“it has a style of starting”) and little or no carbonation.

San Benedetto:

“Tastes like faucet water,” mentioned one taster. The small bubbles had been “so small, they’re prickly,” like Pop Rocks or needles.

The 5 seltzers.

Seltzer is apparent water that has been artificially carbonated with carbon dioxide, with no added components (like salt or potassium salts).


With many extra bubbles than the others in its group, it was described by one editor as “slap-to-the-face aggressive”; one other mentioned it was “virtually foamy.”


It had giant, mellow bubbles and a robust “water” style, although we did discover a citrusy, lime-y taste upon first sip.

Fairway Model:

The bubbles are fast, imparting a pinpoint sensation: One editor defined the feeling as “ping-ping-ping, very quick.” The feel was foamy and light-weight, and though there have been no added components, some mentioned it had a barely lemony (and/or barely metallic) taste.


“That is like cake,” mentioned one taster. Nearly candy and straightforward to drink, with fewer and tinier bubbles, this beverage is hereby dubbed “cake water.”


The flattest of the 5, it was in contrast each to faucet water and to flat Champagne. The bubbles are floaters, touring swiftly to the again of the throat, the place they make themselves identified.

The two membership sodas.

Membership soda is seltzer’s bulked up brother: It is obtained sodium salts and/or potassium salts, which might embody desk salt and baking soda. These are added to neutralize acidity and imitate the flavors of pure water.

Entire Meals 365 Model:

Whereas a few of us discovered the bubbles to be virtually too harsh (inflicting a tingling sensation from the lips inwards), others predicted it was be some of the costly of our tasting. One other particular person thought it “could possibly be Perrier,”

Q-Club (Superior Club Soda):

Surprisingly, this was additionally recognized as Perrier. It had a distinctly citrusy, “lime-forward style”—the editors could not imagine it wasn’t flavored. (Q-Membership, in line with its web site, is made with Himalayan salt.)

The 4 carbonated mineral waters.

Mineral water is outlined as glowing water that comes from a mineral spring. In response to the The Food and Drug Administration, it should comprise “a minimum of 250 ppm whole dissolved solids that originates from a geologically and bodily protected underground water supply.”

Neither minerals nor carbonation is added (aside from San Pellegrino; in line with the Huffington Submit, further carbonation is added to Pellegrino by the bottler). “Spring water,” however (see Mountain Valley Spring Water above), comes from a pure supply however incorporates lower than 250 elements per million dissolved minerals.


Tasters had been stunned by the tiny bubbles, so small that some folks discovered it felt “virtually flat.” The little bubbles moved in all types of instructions, like electrons, and Amanda Sims—the one who had specified I not purchase Perrier—mentioned, and I quote, “I prefer it.”


Described as concurrently foamy and flat, Gerolsteiner additionally had an uncommon style: “Is that moist wooden?” requested Ali Slagle. Others recognized notes of rainwater.

San Pellegrino:

The bubbles, tasters famous, had been weak: “not flat however not attempting exhausting sufficient”, “a person in a tutu beginning to leap.” Leslie Stephens declared she was uninterested. Nobody recognized this well-known, fancy drink (not even its fan Amanda Sims).


“That is Pellegrino,” Taylor Rondestvedt mentioned decisively.

Carbonated Water At Dwelling

Skipping the grocery retailer? Or possibly you don’t wish to schlep heavy bottles and cans all the way in which house? There are wonderful at-home carbonators in the marketplace that allow you to make seltzer on-demand. The soda makers retailer carbon dioxide compressed into cartridges. Replenish your bottle with chilly faucet water, screw it into the machine, and with a press of a button, you’ve carbonated water in seconds. Take a look at SodaStream’s Terra and Art glowing water makers. Our favourite? Aarke’s stunning carbonator, which has a slender design and svelte end that appears nearly as good in your countertop as it’s practical.

Flavored Favorites

The seltzer aisle is stuffed with pleasant flavored glowing waters which are a low-to-no-sugar different to soda. Flavored glowing water manufacturers are getting extra inventive with taste mixtures day by day, gaining inspiration from pure fruit flavors and showcasing them with out using added sugars or synthetic sweeteners. Listed here are just a few of our favourite fruity and fizzy sips:

There are traditional fruit flavors like raspberry lime (Sprindrift is king right here,) or extra tropical flavors like Sanzo’s, which include lychee, mango, yuzu with ginger, and calamansi lime, Something Nothing’s bright and fresh cucumber seltzer is all Food52’s editorial assistant Lucy Simon desires on a sizzling summer time day, and you’ll by no means go mistaken with a twist of lime Topo Chico.

Remaining Ideas

And so, a becoming conclusion to our very inconclusive glowing water take a look at. Folks cling to a sure kind of glowing water—they’re used to it, they really prefer it, or they have not tried many others. And there are different elements, like temperature, what you are consuming it with, what number of glowing waters you are attempting directly, that alter the expertise.

Principally, we’re not changing into water sommeliers anytime quickly.

This text was up to date in June 2022 as a result of we’ll by no means stopped loving seltzer.

This publish incorporates merchandise independently chosen (and beloved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon Affiliate, Food52 earns an affiliate fee on qualifying purchases of the merchandise we hyperlink to.

What’s your most well-liked model of glowing water? Defend your selection within the feedback under!


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