An in the Mix Feature Story
June 19, 2023
Corporate Director of Beverage, Americas for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Certified Wine Sommelier, Certified Water Sommelier, California Wine Appellation Specialist, Author, Wine Enthusiast Magazine “Top 40 Under 40 Tastemaker”
These days, it seems wine sommeliers are a dime a dozen. Of course, a truly gifted connoisseur with years of experience can be an invaluable asset to any fine dining establishment. But the idea of employing an in-house wine expert to elevate the dining experience is nothing groundbreaking.
The typical job description of a professional sommelier is to educate patrons about different varietals, recommend perfectly paired bottles to accompany any dish, and curate the restaurant’s wine list (among many other things). But have you ever experienced the wonder of a Certified Water Sommelier?
Jessica Altieri is a Certified Wine and Water Sommelier and the Corporate Director of Beverage, Americas for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. She has been featured in Travel+Leisure, Barron’s-Penta, Bustle and Wine Enthusiast Magazine. She has also appeared on CNBC, ABC, WGN, and ESPN Radio.
Jessica has educated audiences around the world with a journey to discover the fascinating history and sensory elements of the world’s finest wines and mineral waters—allowing you to explore the creative experience of drinking the right mineral water, in the context of food, wine, occasion, and wellness. A 15+ year global tastemaker and professional wine judge, she has experienced some of the world’s most sought-after wine, food, and water across six continents.
As an established world-renowned Wine Sommelier who developed a wine-centric digital media network, launched a podcast, and even wrote a book all about vino, Jessica found herself craving new challenges and before long, decided to expand her passions beyond the world of wine: water. In 2017 she enrolled at the internationally renowned Doemens Academy in Munich-Graefelfing, Germany and earned her certification from their Water Sommelier program — one of the world’s most comprehensive Water Sommelier training programs.
Unique in the world, Water Sommeliers focus on the rich cultural heritage that is mineral and spring water, but also act as competent consultants conveying the sensory characteristics of other water types. As one of few water sommeliers in the country, Jessica is attuned to the minute taste differences that would be indistinguishable to the untrained tongue and is uniquely positioned to lay out and inspire people to experience the worlds’ best mineral water in the same way wine enthusiasts savor great wine. She recently created and implemented the first ever high-end luxury water program, and virtual training for the launch of a Mineral Water Program at Four Seasons Hotel Macao.
“My goal is to make consumers feel comfortable and educate them, so they understand the health benefits of water, and to learn that water is more than just water,” says Altieri. You don’t need to have a fancy palate to taste the difference. Education is the key to helping consumers understand water is more than just something you sip when you’re thirsty.”
Much like wine, different regions and terroirs have significant effects on the sensory profiles and subtle flavor nuances that come through in each bottle. For example, a bottle of Vichy Catalan mineral water from Spain is extremely complex with an almost neutral pH balance, enabling it to pair well with the rustic, rural cuisines found in many European countries. Meanwhile, the crisp, clean water inside a bottle of Svalbarði is harvested from icebergs in the remote fjords surrounding a far-flung Norwegian archipelago. Its low minerality makes it a classic match for fresh oysters or steamed lobster because it complements the refinement of each dish without overpowering the flavors.
Although the role of the water sommelier is still in its infancy, numbering 500 at most worldwide, it’s undeniably on the rise with more and more popping up in hotels all over the globe, all ultimately fostering the same universal philosophy that “water is not just water.” Fine dining, wine and gourmet water are inextricably linked. Perhaps it’s time we give water the attention it deserves and soon you might find yourself being asked,” would you like water with your meal?”
Jessica Altieri, Corporate Director of Beverage, Americas for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, is a Certified Wine and Water Sommelier, California Wine Appellation Specialist, Wine Enthusiast Magazine “40 Under 40 Tastemaker” and featured beverage speaker at industry trade shows. With over 15 years of extensive international beverage programming, education, and event activation experience, she has become a globally sought-after expert, speaker, thought leader, and interview subject. Author of Kiss My Glass: No-BS Wine Buying Guide and innovator in the wine, food, and culture market industry, Jessica has worked alongside world-class winemakers, mineral water producers, vintners, and 3-Star Michelin Chefs, including Chefs Mauro Colagreco and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Jessica has built a multi-platform digital network and has been featured in Travel+Leisure, Barron’s-Penta, and Bustle. She has also appeared on CNBC, ABC, WGN, and ESPN Radio with unique wine, food, and lifestyle segments.