In order to understand consumer behavior toward drinking water, it is first necessary to determine sensory perception and liking for tap and bottled water. Nevertheless, sensory analysis of water is a challenge as drinking water is supposed to have almost no taste. Therefore, a methodology based on a perceptive sorting task was designed for that purpose.
Six bottled mineral water and six types of tap water were presented to 389 consumers who had to group these samples according to their sensory similarities, describe their groups and give their preferences. The resulting sensory map was found to be mainly driven by the overall level of mineralization. Tap water, after being passively dechlorinated, did not perform differently from bottled water in all aspects for most consumers. Basically, three main tastes of water were highlighted and linked to the amount of minerals. The study demonstrated that the most likely preferred types of water are those with medium mineralization (total dissolved solids 300–350 mg/L), which are perceived as tasteless and cooler.