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How to correctly taste olive oil: a guide

Tasting extra virgin olive oil is an interdimensional journey, a reality that works with multiple different dimensions, beyond the classic ones. A must experience, able to transport our senses among the thousand and thousand facets that the world of extra virgin olive oil has.

Smell, sight, taste… all 5 senses are put into action when you approach your first tastings of extra virgin olive oil. It is possible to perceive and grasp scents, aromas, colors, even able to bring back memories and deeper thoughts, hidden within each of us.

The time of olive harvesting when the whole family gathered together to help, the first gush of that fresh and pure extra virgin also called green gold, the piece of toasted bread enriched only with a drizzle of freshly pressed EVO, shared with friends for snack…Tasting an olive oil is also this, magic!

But, in order to bring out this side of it, you must first learn how to taste it in the correct way.
So, how do you correctly taste extra virgin olive oil?

Learn how to taste extra virgin olive oil

The most “studied” will say that the best way to recognize if an olive oil is of good or poor quality is to carry out a chemical analysis. An operation to monitor the acidity of the olive oil, a fundamental parameter if not the most important, but which can only be carried out in the laboratory.

The reality is quite different tough! Being able to carry out to the perfect olive oil professional tasting still remains the most effective and efficient tool.

This practice is divided into three phases, let’s see them together:

OLFACTORY ANALYSIS

First step to better approach the analysis of our extra virgin olive oil.
Pour the oil into a colored glass (did you know that the official glasses for olive oil tasting are blue?) and cool it, holding it in your cupped hand and covering the top of the glass with the palm of the other hand. Move the glass slowly and circularly, to help the temperature reach around 27 ° C and finally, smell the heated EVO.

The general line is that we are facing a good extra virgin when the aromas that arise from the glass kinda remind of freshly cut grass, tomato, artichokes and almonds…

TASTE ANALYSIS

The second fundamental step to learn how to taste extra virgin olive oil at its best.

Bring the EVO to your mouth, but without swallowing it. Let it cradle in the mouth and at the same time inhale to oxygenate the oil, deposit it on the tongue so that it rests.

We must not only go looking for flavors such as sweet, bitter and spicy, excellent recognition of a quality extra virgin olive oil, but during the tasting of an olive oil you always have to pay as much attention to tactical stimuli such as consistency and fluidity.

Conclude this tasting phase by expelling the olive oil in the previously used glass.

VISUAL ANALYSIS

For the last phase of our olive oil tasting lesson, the sense of sight comes into play. Here, the most important factors to consider are clarity, density and color. The clarity varies according to the filtration stages of the olive oil, the density depends on the territory of origin of the olives and the color must be between straw yellow and deep green.
Et voilà, a guide to the perfect tasting of extra virgin olive oil always available!

And why not add some oil-dish pairing advice to stir up your everyday life at the table and surprise your most special guests?

After the olive oil tasting: learn how to combine

Yes, even extra virgin olive oil, as well as wine, follows precise rules when it comes to combining it in the kitchen. In fact, it is necessary to know how to enhance the quality, tastes and aromas of every single dish; accompanying the final dish with the wrong olive oil would mean deeply penalizing it.

It is difficult to believe, but as many as 8 out of 10 Italians admit that they do not know how to properly combine extra virgin olive oil with the dishes they bring to the table. Led by misconceptions or false myths, they risk to ruin their culinary creations every day simply by not paying the right attention to the correct combination of EVO oil and food.

However, it is enough to know that there is only one simple rule at the basis of this knowledge: extra virgin olive oil is accompanied by similarity of flavors.

A few examples:

  • – olive oils with bitter notes go well with strong and tasty dishes such as meat and game sauces, artichokes and red radicchio, steaks and grilled vegetables;
  • – spicy olive oils enliven dishes of legume soups, bruschetta, tomato sauces;
  • – milder olive oils enrich delicate dishes based on fish and white meats, boiled or not boiled vegetables;
  • – olive oils with vegetable scents give notes of freshness to dishes such as tomato salad, caprese or rice and pasta salads.
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