Different grades of olive oil offer distinct tastes, aromas, and nutritional qualities. Olive oil tasting is an art that allows you to explore the nuances of each. Learn more on how to evaluate and appreciate the diverse grades of olive oil!
- Selecting the Olive Oils:
Choose a variety of olive oils that represent different grades and origins. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), Virgin Olive Oil, and Olive Oil (also known as "Pure" or "Light" Olive Oil) are some of the common grades. Look for oils with a harvest date, as fresher oils tend to have superior flavors and aromas.
- Set Up Your Tasting Station:
Set up a tasting station with neutral surroundings and good lighting. Avoid strong odors in the area as they may interfere with the aroma of the oils. Provide small tasting cups or glasses for each oil you choose to evaluate.
- The Art of Tasting:
Use a proper tasting technique to appreciate the unique attributes of each olive oil. Follow these steps:
Warm the Oil: Cup the tasting glass in your hands to gently warm the oil, releasing its full range of aromas.
Observe the Color: Hold the glass against a white background and observe the color of the oil. Extra virgin olive oil typically displays a green hue, while refined oils may appear more yellow.
Smell the Aroma: Uncover the glass and inhale deeply to capture the oil's aroma. Swirl the oil in the glass to agitate it and release more of its fragrance.
Analyze the Aroma: Note the various scents you perceive, such as grassy, fruity, herbal, or nutty notes. Each oil will have a unique combination of aromas.
Taste: Take a small sip and let it spread across your tongue.
Evaluate the Taste: Pay attention to the flavor profile. Look for bitterness, pungency, and fruitiness. A well-balanced extra virgin olive oil should have a harmonious blend of these characteristics.
Assess the Aftertaste: The lingering taste after swallowing is known as the finish. A high-quality olive oil will have a pleasant, peppery aftertaste.
- Consider the Quality:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is considered the highest grade, extracted solely by mechanical means without the use of heat or chemicals. It must meet specific chemical and sensory criteria. Virgin Olive Oil also has good quality but may have slightly higher acidity and fewer sensory attributes than EVOO. On the other hand, Olive Oil is milder in flavor and suitable for cooking.
- Pairing Olive Oil with Food:
Experiment with pairing olive oil with various dishes. Robust extra virgin olive oils pair well with hearty dishes and strong flavors, while delicate oils enhance the taste of more subtle dishes and salads.
- Storing Olive Oil:
Store olive oil in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight and heat, which can cause it to deteriorate.