Olive Oil Tasting

Olive oil is not just a cooking ingredient, it’s also an important component of the Mediterranean diet, which is considered to be one of the healthiest diets in the world. A proper olive oil tasting can help you identify different types of olive oil and understand their unique tastes and characteristics.

Olive oil tasting is the only way to find out what exactly you are going to consume. Many people already know that this product is one of the leaders in the world of fakes and counterfeit products. So the first question you should answer is: is this real extra virgin olive oil? 

You cannot be sure until you taste olive oil. Everything can mislead you: fancy bottles, beautiful labels and of course, rich green color with golden hues shimmering in a shiny glass.

Counterfeit manufacturers have learned how to make attractive packaging and use artificial colors and flavors. The only thing they can’t fake is the real extra virgin olive oil taste. That’s why the only thing we can trust is our taste buds.

Tasting olive oil is necessary not only to distinguish a fake from a real one. The taste of extra virgin olive oil can vary greatly depending on the olive varieties, the harvest period as well as on the soil and climate of regions where the olives are grown. So you need to taste olive oil in order to understand which particular taste you like best. This will help you decide which olive oils you would like to buy and use more than others.

How to Taste Olive Oil? 

For olive oil tasting you will need a small colored glass or teacup. These kinds of glasses professional olive oil sommeliers use when testing olive oil.  The cup should be opaque to hide the real oil color and to help you objectively evaluate its more important characteristics, such as taste and aroma. It is better to use a glass or porcelain cup as this will allow you to warm up the olive oil by simply holding the cup in your hand for a few minutes. 

Make sure you haven’t smoked or drank coffee for at least an hour before tasting olive oil as cigarettes and coffee can block your taste and smell for some time.

Well, let’s begin:

  1. Pour olive oil into a cup. Take the cup in one hand, cover it with the other and hold for a couple of minutes, shaking and rotating slightly. Olive oil reveals its best flavors and aromas at a temperature of around 30°C.
  2. Open the cup and inhale the aroma of olive oil. The aroma is one of the most important things to consider when tasting olive oil. A good extra virgin olive oil should have a fruity aroma that is reminiscent of fresh olives. The aroma can also give you an idea of the age of the olive oil. Older olive oils tend to have a more muted aroma, while fresher oils have a more robust and vibrant aroma. Real fresh extra virgin olive oil has a distinct scent of wild herbs with a variety of floral and fruity undertones. If the aroma is natural but weak, then most likely this olive oil has expired, or it was stored and transported in violation of the temperature regime. If you feel an unpleasant, musty or rancid smell, then it’s time to stop the experiment. It’s not extra virgin, it’s fake olive oil. 
  3. Take a small amount of oil in your mouth and hold it, trying to feel all the shades of taste. When it comes to the taste of extra virgin olive oil, there are a few key factors to consider. The first is the fruitiness of the oil. Real extra virgin olive oil should have a fresh and pleasant fruity taste. The fruitiness can range from mild to intense, depending on the type of olives used. You can breathe in some air with your lips open, this will help you feel the nuances better. If you feel a heavy, chemical or metallic taste, then it’s not extra virgin. 
  4. Take a sip. The next factor is the bitterness of olive oil, which can range from mild to intense. Tasting real extra virgin olive oil will leave you feeling bitterness and pungency, or a peppery finish at the back of your throat when you swallow the oil. These sensations can be strong or weak, depending on the olive variety or the harvest period. Early harvest olive oil has a more intense and sharp finish. Swallowing it, you can even feel a strong burning sensation in your throat and a fit of coughing with tears in your eyes. If this oil is made from regular harvested olives, you will swallow it easily, but still experience some scratchy throat. If it is not there at all, then most likely the oil is old or exhausted. 

Why do we feel the bitterness and pungency in olive oil? 

Bitterness is a natural characteristic of extra virgin olive oil which indicates the level of polyphenols (antioxidants) in the composition of olive oil. 

These polyphenols give extra virgin olive oil its health benefits; the more of them, the more healthy the olive oil is. The highest amount of polyphenols is found in Cornicabra olive oil. This olive oil contains polyphenols up to 750 mg/liter. 

As for the peppery finish, it is caused by the presence of oleocanthal, which is a natural compound found in olives. Oleocanthal has anti-inflammatory properties and can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses. 

Real Extra Virgin Olive Oil Taste and Aroma 

Please remember: real extra virgin olive oil never smells like oil. It has natural fruity, herbal, floral and other aromas and a slightly bitter taste and peppery finish.

When tasting olive oil, you can discover a wide range of different flavors depending on factors such as the variety of olive, the region where it was grown, and the processing methods used to extract olive oil. 

Here are some of them: 

Fruity: Extra virgin olive oil can have a fresh and vibrant fruity taste, with notes of ripe or green fruit such as apples, bananas, or tomatoes.

Herbaceous: Some extra virgin olive oils have an herbaceous taste, with notes of basil, oregano or rosemary. Also, herbaceous olive oils often have a slightly bitter or pungent finish. 

Nutty: Olive oil can have a rich and smooth nutty taste, with notes of almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts. 

Peppery: Tasting olive oil you can feel a peppery taste, with a sharp and spicy sensation at the back of the throat. Peppery olive oils often have a slightly bitter or astringent finish.

Floral: Extra virgin olive oil can have a delicate and fragrant floral taste, with notes of flowers such as jasmine or lavender.

Buttery: Some extra virgin olive oils have a mild, buttery taste, with a smooth and creamy texture. Usually, these are olive oils made from late harvested olives. 

Grassy: Extra virgin olive oil can have a grassy taste, with notes of fresh-cut grass or hay. Grass olive oils are often described as earthy and rustic. 

These different tastes and aromas are the result of the complex natural compounds found in extra virgin olive oil. Therefore, if you find the natural flavors mentioned above in olive oil, you can be sure that this is real olive oil.

Why do you feel the tastes and smells of fruits and herbs when you taste olive oil? Here you can read about this in detail.  

Where to Taste Olive Oil? 

Well, definitely not in a supermarket. Hardly they will get you right if you contact the staff with such a request. So, when going to the supermarket, you definitely should not take your olive oil testing cup with you. 

You can taste olive oil in small specialty gourmet food stores. As a rule, in such stores, there is a specially equipped place where they will offer you to taste their olive oils and tell you in detail about the different varieties, producers and regions where these oils were made.

Also, if you have ever visited farm markets, you probably know that in almost every stall you will be offered to taste different products and choose what to buy. 

What if a vendor or farmer won’t allow you to taste olive oil? Just get out of there. If they have something to hide, then you have nothing to lose by refusing their product.

And of course, if you come to a region where olive oil is produced, you should definitely visit an olive farm. Most farmers will gladly offer you an exciting degustation tour and no less entertaining story about their family farm, history, traditions, etc.

So get ready to spend a couple of hours. You will be able to taste and buy the olive oil you like, and possibly negotiate with the farmer about future regular purchases. Or maybe later you will meet their olive oil in our web store. And then you can confidently buy it without any tasting. 

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