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Liquid Asset

Martin Riese makes a splash as the world’s foremost water sommelier.

Agua connoisseur Martin Riese gives new meaning to drink pairings with his groundbreaking H20 menu.

Career restaurant manager Martin Riese works diligently to achieve eatery ecstasy, from the food to the wine. So when a customer grumbled about the brand of mineral water at a Riese-managed resto in Germany, epiphany hit. “I thought to myself, he is absolutely right because water does have different tastes,” Riese remembers. “If we have 1,000 different wines and just one brand of mineral water, something is wrong.”

Righting this wrong, Riese became a certified water sommelier, earning nearly overnight acclaim throughout his native Germany. Now he is bringing his H2O savvy stateside as general manager and water sommelier at LACMA’s Ray’s & Stark Bar. Flaunting his liquid passion, Riese’s new water tasting menu features 20 fine fluids of varying mineral levels from 10 different countries. Low-level mineral waters, like Berg, a pure glacier water from Canada, sit alongside high-level mineral counterparts, such as Gerolsteiner from Germany, which provides a hefty dose of the daily recommendations for calcium and magnesium in just one bottle.

But these refreshers are hardly substandard table water. “Wine becomes even better with the right water,” elaborates Riese, who is always on hand to recommend the perfect pairing. Take coupling an acidic riesling with naturally acidic water, like Gerolsteiner. “It is too much and will destroy the acidity level of the wine,” warns Riese, reiterating the importance of water’s affect on food and wine.

For those fond of the tap, Riese is still happy to serve, under one condition: The water is filtered. “I don’t want that chlorine taste in my water,” he laughs. No need to fret—the water on his menu is so pure and clean, you’ll want to drink up.