The scene: everyone is standing around the bar, taking sips from wine glasses--but they aren't filled with wine. One of the attendees comments that she can't believe that a room of (mostly) journalists, even after being offered free booze, is predominately drinking .

We were fortunate last night to attend what was basically a book launching party to celebrate "Fine Waters: A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Most Distinctive Bottled Waters." Appropriately, the event centered around tasting bottled water, many different types of it. We'll echo the sentiments of's Charles Hodgkins, who also attended the event: when we first heard about a "water tasting" party, we weren't sure if it was meant to be ironic. But, no--water tasting is quite serious, and even interesting. The event was co-sponsored by Quirk Books, the publisher, and Chow, and took place at John Colins (90 Natoma Street).

We were approached by the author, Michael Mascha, who asked us how we were enjoying what we were sampling. This led us to ask him about what we should be looking for when tasting water--if it's akin to, say, identifying the sweet/salty/bitter/sour flavor profiles in food. He said it's more akin to tasting wine, and asked us to try for "taste" (including minerality) "mouth feel" (varying levels of effervesence, etc.) He pointed out two examples at opposite ends of the spectrum. One, a delicate still water called King Island Cloud Juice, fascinating in that, according to Mascha, we were drinking "Tasmanian rainwater from from two weeks ago"). The other, Vichy-Catalan, described in his book as "the best known mineral water from Spain," which is a fairly bubbly water with lots of minerals.

The event was well attended; we, of course, were delighted to see that Hodgkins had brought his fellow burrito enthusiast (and friend of SFist) Dan Johnson of Burritophile.

The long and short of it: we never thought of water as we do coffee or wine--beverages of complexity that deserve our scrutiny and enjoyment--until today. "Fine Waters" is an excellent guide for those who wish to elevate their water tasting experience.

A few pics of H20 and guests after the jump!