It’s British Sandwich Week: best bottled water pairings for UK’s favourite sandwiches

Bottled water, most of us guzzle it down without even thinking, but according to one water expert, Doran Binder (also known as ‘The Bearded Water Sommelier’), water can and should be paired or contrasted with food, just like wine. 

So, as it’s British Sandwich Week this week, what better opportunity to test the theory – taking some of the UK’s favourite sandwiches and pairing/contrasting them with popular bottled water brands.  

According to data analysists Meal Track, the UK’s top sandwich fillings in the first quarter of 2022 are Chicken (26.1%), Cheese (22.2%) and Bacon (16.1%), with vegan sandwiches also on the rise. Here are our top sandwich picks, along with Doran’s water pairings to bring out or contrast with the flavours.  

Doran begins: “When choosing a water to accompany your dish, similar to wine pairings, it’s important to consider flavour intensity as well as what the dominant flavours are within the meal. You can also choose to pair, or contrast flavours – a water pairing will complement the flavours and leave the taste unchanged, whereas a contrast will enhance certain flavours making them taste more intense.” 

Chicken Baguette from Greggs – £2.85

Crusty bread contrasted with a creamy, mayonnaise filling with soft chunks of chicken and lettuce, this chicken sandwich is simplicity at its best. 

Doran says: “A great contrast for this crusty baguette and its rich filling would be Contrex Still Mineral water which has a TDS level of 2000. The water has a salty, earthy taste with a beautiful smooth mouthfeel. So, it will season your mouth before you bite into your baguette and really enhance the flavours. It’s calcium rich as well which means it comes with additional health benefits other than hydration.  

Alternatively, a nice matching water would be any water with a TDS level below 250 such as Lauretana, which is renowned for its light mineral content with TDS 14, refreshing taste that would complement but not alter the flavours in the baguette. 

Triple Cheese from Tesco – £2.75  

The triple cheese from Tesco has a strong taste with three different cheeses it’s a veritable feast for cheese-lovers. Well, if you’re going to do something, do it right! But which water will bring out the flavours of the cheese? 

Doran says “I would contrast this sandwich with Vichy Catalan, as again it will season your mouth. It has quite a salty taste that will bring out the flavours in the cheese. A nice matching water would be Evian (TDS 360) which some people describe as having quite a minerally taste, it is a stronger tasting water with a slightly salty after taste, but will not take away from the cheeses, rather it will complement them. 

Waitrose – Bacon and Brie with Chilli Relish – £3.40  

What’s better than a bacon butty? A bacon and brie butty with a warm chilli relish to balance the salty flavours! This delightful pre-packed sandwich from Waitrose has everything you need for a lunchtime pick me up. 

Doran says: “An interesting contrast would be Borjomi, with such strong flavours with the bacon and Brie it will take a Borjomi to deal with that and offer a contrast. Borjomi is naturally carbonated with a distinctive mineral taste that will cut through all that saltiness. 

“Crag Sparkling would be a brilliant match as it is ever so slightly acidic, some say it tastes a bit like it has lime in it but that’s all natural, there are no added flavourings. It will act as a palette cleanser and mirror some of the flavours found in the relish, while balancing out the saltiness from the cheese and bacon.” 

Plant Aldi Falafel and Houmous Wrap – £1.99

This wrap has a nice balance of flavours, the chilli wrap and Moroccan chutney adding some sweetness to balance out the earthiness of the houmous and falafel.  

A match for this would be any water with a TDS below 250ml to not take away from the wrap, Evian or Fiji would both be great pairings. 

If you’re looking for something more contrasting, Vichy or Borjomi sparkling waters would create an explosion of extra flavours. 

Doran concludes: “There are hundreds of different brands of bottled water in the world, and here in the UK we get through some. I have googled this and in 2020 it was 2.54 billion bottles in the UK. That’s a lot of water, but most of us never stop to think about what’s in the bottle, nor what it actually tastes like. Depending on its mineral content and the level of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), the taste of water can vary greatly so next time you grab a bottle of water with your lunch thinking about the taste and how it can match, or contrast will really add to your experience.”  

Bottled water and TDS 

With mineral or spring water, the taste and how it feels in the mouth is governed by the level of Total Dissolved Solids (Minerals) it contains – the TDS level. TDS includes carbonates, bicarbonates, chlorides, sulphates, phosphates, nitrates, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron, manganese, and many other minerals. These minerals are absorbed by the water as it filters through the geology in its journey to the source.