Meet Anastasia Chovan, Vivreau’s Water Sommelier
Part 1 – The Expertise
“I’m a water sommelier.”
These words alone would likely pique the interest of anyone in earshot. We’re of course familiar with water, and many may also know wine sommeliers, those experts with highly refined palates that can whiff out every note in a wine and pair it with the perfect meal.
But what exactly is a certified water sommelier? And what goes into becoming one?
Meet Anastasia Chovan, Director of Sales, Professional Filter, at Vivreau, and the company’s first North American based certified water Sommelier. A 25-year veteran of the beverage industry, Anastasia’s journey to becoming a water sommelier began with something simple but very powerful: Curiosity.
“When I came to Vivreau, I became immersed in the world of water, and all the elements that affect its taste and function as ingredient water. It was fascinating. I learned how water can be fine-tuned like any other ingredient, to optimize the flavor of goods made with it. Adjusting the dials of water composition and filtration to elevate taste. I also felt the call to share this knowledge with my clients, so they can create the best sensory experience for their own organizations.”
In 2022, during a visit to Vivreau’s parent company’s head office in Germany, Anastasia was invited to a 2-hour water tasting sensory session in their tasting lab. The spark of curiosity was fanned to a flame. When Anastasia learned of an opening in the Water Sommelier Certification program, she applied. At the time, there were only 12 certified sommeliers globally, and none in North America. Anastasia would be the first.
What is a water sommelier?
A water sommelier is a trained expert in the sensory experience of water and the science behind it. Understanding the interaction of water composition, the individual’s palate, flavors, and how these elements together create the taste experience of water. They are experts in guiding the sensory experience for others with water tastings, and can make recommendations on types of waters best suited for different purposes.
“For example, the filtration that works well for drinking water, can differ from the type of filtration we would recommend for a café creating hot drinks. The flavor molecules of coffee are affected by the chemicals and minerals within the ingredient water, and we can optimize the flavor by ensuring the ingredient water has the components that improve the coffee, and remove the components that negatively impact the flavor.”
Turning early morning challanges into sweet sucess
As anyone who’s completed schooling while simultaneously working full time would attest – it’s a lot of work. It also takes a lot of dedication, grit, and passion, which Anastasia has in spades.
Laughing, she shared, “My lectures were online from Germany, and due to the time difference for me in Seattle the classes would begin at 4am and run for the next five hours. Water chemistry, sensory tastings, quizzes – it was intense. And because of tastings, we needed to have a clear palate – so no coffee allowed!”
That first sip of coffee after those sessions must have tasted extra sweet.
The training required months of studying and midnight scientific lectures. Once the lectures were complete, Anastasia was invited to attend the on-site lab training in Germany for 2 weeks to finalize her certification. Anastasia is now a certified water sommelier and having hosted over a dozen over the past year 2023, her dedication to sharing her expertise is evident.
“Water is a precious resource. It’s so easily taken for granted, but it really is the world’s most important molecule. After hosting tasting sessions, often I hear “that was so eye-opening”. It’s rewarding to create experiences that change a person’s perspective and appreciation for something so important.”