I have a fraught relationship with Perrier. On the one hand, bubbly water is simple and refreshing. It’s the original diet soda, with no funny artificial sweeteners to distract or strange flavours to linger. It’s a nice change from tap water, and the bubbles bring me some form of intangible joy.
However, as someone who also shuns pretentious douchebaggery, I have a hard time breaking through the mental image of jet-set ascot-wearing sociopaths drinking cool bottles of Perrier while sunning themselves on their overcompensatory yachts. It’s always struck me as the preferred drink of the kind of people I’d least like to have a conversation with.
And yet I like Perrier. I like the regular variety, with its neutral flavour and crisp bubbles. And I like the lemon and lime varieties, which are fizzy and flavourful without any sweetness. To feel less ecologically awful*, I sometimes opt for locally bottled lemon-lime fizzy water instead of the French original. It’s not quite the same, but at least it didn’t have to travel several thousand miles to land in the door of my fridge.
Brand extension, baby!
With all that brand capital at its disposal (see rich douchebags, above), it’s not surprising that Perrier’s masters at Nestle have hopped into the bubbly-water-and-juice market. Is it watered down juice with bubbles? Is it bubbly water flavoured with juice? There’s a delicate balance to be struck. Too sweet and it’s not Perrier. Not fruity enough and it’ll taste like an ice-filled glass of juice after all the ice has melted.
In the end, Perrier picked three flavour combinations to launch their Perrier & Juice line: Peach and Cherry, Pineapple and Mango, and Strawberry and Kiwi. All of which sound like plausible flavours that aren’t particularly risky, and that should be relatively easy to reproduce in a bubbly water.
Aside on unnecessary fruit pairings
This has always bothered me. WHY must companies combine fruit flavours when one would be fine? Do we really need to add kiwi to strawberry? Cherry to peach? Pineapple to mango?
The only reason I can think of for a company to do this is if the fruit flavouring isn’t up to scratch, so they mask off-flavours and direct comparisons to the actual fruit by adding another flavouring to muddy the waters. If the peach or the cherry flavour isn’t great on its own, pairing them up means you’re more likely to obscure the defects and dodge criticism that it doesn’t taste enough like either one.
What do they taste like?
With that scepticism in mind, I set out to try these three new Perrier & Juice flavours.
Peach and Cherry: The aroma of peach is dominant, and smells like actual peach, not peach candy. The flavour is also more peach than cherry, but the cherry is noticeable. Surprisingly, it has roughly equal portions of lemon and peach juices from concentrate, which means it tastes not like a sweet, ripe peach but like a peach you bit into a week before it was ready to eat. It’s more sharp than fruity, and both the lemon and cherry distract from the peach instead of enhance it, which is too bad. Not digging this one.
Pineapple and Mango: Right off the bat, equal amounts of both pineapple and mango aroma bubble up as it’s poured from the can. It’s more sour than I expected it to be, but again, that’s because of the ample hit of lemon juice in the ingredients. The pineapple is front and centre, but instead of mango, I’m getting coconut flavours. (Why? No clue.) It doesn’t taste artificial or particularly sweet. The carbonation level is perfect, and it isn’t watery. Quite good.
Strawberry and Kiwi: Strawberry is a difficult flavour to pull off without it tasting artificial, even if you use natural essences. The aroma is all strawberry, which makes sense as kiwi has a comparatively understated aroma. Considering it lists 7% apple juice concentrate (the most of any juice), why not call it Strawberry and Apple? The sweet/sour balance is better than the Peach and Cherry flavour, with fragrant, ripe strawberry (hello, Fruit Roll-ups?) giving way to Granny Smith apple tartness. It’s not bad.
Price: $1.89 per 330 mL can at Sunterra Market in Edmonton.
Value for Money: In line with similar drinks.
Availability: More limited than other Perrier drinks.
Nutrition: 60 calories per 330 mL can. By way of comparison, regular Coca-cola is normally 140 calories per 355 mL can.
*Irony Noted: I recognize the irony of writing about flavoured water shipped all the way from France when only last month I wrote about being eco-friendly by eating and drinking things from closer to home. Rest assured: these are not a regular indulgence.
Verdict: I don’t understand these. The lemon juice threw me, and it makes these drinks taste unlike what I was expecting. The Peach and Cherry one is almost hostile in its tartness. At least with lemon or lime Perrier, you’re getting the citrus essence without the sharp, sour bite of a sizable splash of lemon or lime juice. If I bought one again, it would be Pineapple and Mango. But I’d hesitate unless I wanted a sour hit to complement a sweeter meal.