San Pellegrino
Essenza Blood Orange & Black Raspberry

We’re back for more San Pellegrino today, that essenza of Italy that transports you to an Italian dreamscape without the throngs of sweaty tourists and the smells of those Venice canals that give your nose some medieval verité.

No, this is pure, crisp fantasy, and frankly we’re all here for it. Finally a taste of Italy that’s all Roman Holiday, none of the pesky catcalling.

We do have a crush on this water. Every time we take a sip we feel like we’re splashing in the burbling natural waters of northern Italy, quaffing the purest natural essences and healing our spirits with its vigorous sulfate profile.

But alas. Harshing our mellow is the unfortunate knowledge that San Pellegrino is also Italian for “Nestlé”, the Swiss corporation not known just for owning all your favorite candies and skin-care brands, like Kiehls (!), but they also own over fifty water brands: from your everyday single-use-plastic friends like Poland Spring and Arrowhead to the fancy slim cans of Perrier and San Pellegrino. And they’re not just bogarting the bottled water brands all to themselves, they’re also bogarting the actual water! 🙃

Nestlé is notorious for coming in and usurping water supplies. They seem to have a particular knack for going in and taking it from communities where water is sorely needed.

Fun fact: Nestlé is one of the most boycotted brands in the U.K.! And a little sleuthing showed us that one of the internet’s favorite pastimes is shading Nestlé. One of our favorite autofills was “Is Nestlé evil?” Ha. We’ll leave that for god to judge, but actually yeah. Pretty much.

From union busting to slave labor, this company truly has everything under its corporate umbrella. Chef’s kiss to this quote: “Nestlé is the world’s largest foodstuff company, and it has a history that would make even hardcore industrialists shiver.”

Even student newspapers in Aspen aren’t pulling any punches:

“With unethical business practices such as taking clean drinking water in areas that sorely need it, participating in human trafficking and child labor, and exploiting uneducated mothers in third world countries, Nestlé is quite possibly one of the world’s most corrupt corporations.”

So when we’re drinking San Pellegrino part of us feels like we’re imbibing the same sulfate-infused waters that inspired Da Vinci. The other part feels like we’re flooding our bodies with the toxic runoff of late stage capitalism.

It’s a life.

But anyway, let’s get down to this Blood Orange & Black Raspberry, because we know that’s ultimately why you’re here. We just would be remiss not to let you know where your dollars are going and what sort of dark conglomeration is behind the bubbling waters of essenza.

So what makes this particular S. Pellegrino toss our moral compass out the window?

Let’s sip, because this is some genuinely intoxicating effervescence. Powerful enough to forget that they peddle heavily treated, basic ass groundwater. (There was a class action lawsuit about that!)

The nose alone sends us to a raspberry-filled countryside.  There’s faint strains of fancy potpourri, like you’ve entered into a salon full of expensive products. Maybe that’s just us, but we do detect that very specific sense/scent memory.

Tasting Notes


On the tongue, the Blood Orange and Black Raspberry fuse into something at once refined and excessive.

These are bold, come hither flavors, underpinned by the signature soft fizz that imbues all of San Pellegrino’s drinks with the feeling of a light touch on your palate, not a flavor sledgehammer of coarse proportions.

The Blood Orange & Black Raspberry combination is definitely more dominated by the Black Raspberry. Sip after sip, its ripe juiciness cannot be denied or ignored by your mouth.

What’s a Black Raspberry?  You may find yourself asking.

First off, we’ll never miss a chance to drop one of our favorite fun facts.  Raspberries are not a true “berry,” instead, they’re technically aggregate drupelets.  The more you know! 💫

Black Raspberries are a variety of raspberry with a similar taste, but they’re much rarer, and blacker.   Some people say that Black Raspberries are the same thing as “Thimbleberries,” but they seem pretty different from the Thimbleberries we used to forage in the wilderness as children.

Whatever the name of the berry, it’s dominant enough that you might flounder, grasping for the blood of the orange on the finish.  On first burst you can sense it, then it quickly dissolves into piquant minerality. There’s no sharp citrus here, just the soft fleshiness of orange that merges with a baseline of other vague fruit notes.

It’s such a whimsical whirlwind of fruit flavors, that we can even get hits of strawberry and lemon in there. Lost a little bit in the fusillade of gustos are the specific strains of orange and raspberry, but the overall impression is truly robust and satisfying, the blackest of raspberries the pervasive wind weaving its way through the tapestry of tastes.

But beyond the lush flavors, we love that this is so minerally. The magicians at San Pellegrino have recreated the feeling of soaking in mineral springs, nestled (nestléd?) at the base of the Dolomites in your mouth. The bubbles are light and airy, with just a hint of sulfate salinity, delivering a well-balanced mouthfeel and sparkling experience.

Ultimately, these lithe aromatics and juicy flavors spirit us away to the more etheric bubbleverse realms.

But it’s also genuinely hard to stomach parasitic brands like Nestlé. We hate that we love these so much, but it’s not the first time our taste buds have been in conflict with our ethics.

We’ll never forget the first time we sipped the Coca-Cola spawned AHA Orange + Grapefruit that to this day holds us captive in a sparkling citrus vice. Sigh.

But we’ll hop off our soapbox for now! Stay tuned for when we review the next AHA flavor and mostly talk about AHA’s parent corp Coke’s egregious history of channel stuffing. 🔥


Carbonated Mineral Water, Natural Flavors

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