If you like olive oil, appreciate its flavor, aroma and qualities, why don’t you plan an olive oil tasting with friends and family, children and adults. It’s great fun and, at the same time. It will help you to learn to use your senses of taste, smell and texture not just of olive oil but any other food.
If you are a serious foodie, it will help you know how to taste olive oil and to choose which one, and there are quite a few, is best for whatever dish you are planning. Some are suited to salads, some to stews, some for frying, some for baking.
Is an oil xtra virgin or not? A sensory analysis of olive oil, which is what constitutes a tasting, is the only means of assessment of whether an olive oil is of superior quality, that is, whether it is extra virgin, To be extra virgin it must be free of defects, such as unpleasant taste or smell, or have a high degree of acidity which, typically arise from being made from olives in poor condition, as a result of frost, pests or being left too long before harvesting.
Oil that is not up to standard might even be classifies as “lampante’ only suitable for an oil-fired lamp!
Tasting of oil to decide whether it is ‘extra virgin’, may seem very subjective but it has been developed under standards and criteria established by the IIC (International Olive Council) and the European Union. Using the criteria governing a professional tasting, you can carry out a an AOVE (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) tasting at home.
So, let’s go through the process step by step!
First of all, you should perform the tasting in a place away from strong smells, never in the kitchen and not after smoking, eating or drinking wine. Prepare three or four bottles of different types of extra virgin olive oil such as arbequina, empeltre, xxxxx or xxxxx.
Fill a small glass with each variety of oil – two fingers high is enough. Cover the top of the glasses with a lid. Professionals use a lid with rounded top to capture more aroma.
The oil must be at room temperature. Each taster takes his glass in his hands and gently moves the oil round warming it and releasing more aroma. After a few seconds, uncover the oil, lift the glass to your nose and breathe in, deeply, through your nose to experience the aroma, which is determined by the variety of the olive, the time of harvest and whether the olive is green or ripe. Close your eyes and absorb the aroma; characteristically there are hints of fig tree, artichoke, tomato, green leaves, bitter almond, banana, apple and, of course, green or ripe olive.
The next test is flavour. Do not take into account the color; it does not determine the quality of the oil. It is determined by the variety of olive and its degree of maturity at the time of harvesting. Take a sip of oil, but leave it on your tongue, without swallowing. Close your mouth and let the oil mix with saliva and air to begin to perceive flavors. The usual ones are bitterness, sweet, spicy, green vegetables, fruit and nuts.
The sweet taste is experienced on the front of the tongue and the green vegetables, bitter and spicy on the back of the palate. Some oils have a sweet taste, without “tickling” or bitterness. If it’s too sweet, it’s said to be ‘flat’. -When you swallow the oil, it may tickle your throat slightly. If it is not excessive, it is considered a good attribute.
Once you swallow the oil, you may experience an ‘aftertaste’ bringing yet more hints of flavour.
The third measure of quality is the body of the oil; its density which is evident when it is in your mouth. It depends mostly on oleic acid content, the most beneficial monounsaturated fat of the oil which depends on the type of olive. Once the oil is swallowed, the final texture it leaves on the palate helps to appreciate your body as well.
Taking into account all these organoleptic qualities, we can check if olive oil is ‘balanced’; when none of the qualities stand out greatly from the others and the bitterness, sweet and spicy are well balanced. In a professional olive oil tasting, each taster fills out a data sheet in which a star is drawn, formed by the qualities of the oil. The more perfect the final star is, the more balanced the oil. And, in order for an oil to be classified as an ‘extra virgin’ it has to be free of defects.
Organize a tasting of olive oil at home and learn to appreciate an extra virgin olive oil with all its qualities, the differences in aroma, taste and body of different varieties of olive and know how to distinguish an extra virgin olive oil from an oil that is not.
In our online store, you will find single and multivarietal oils to carry out an EVOO tasting at home.