Tasting olive oil can be a real art or a thoroughly scientific process. In fact, both methods are used to analyse olive oil, detect impurities and separate your extra virgin olive oil from plain olive oil. The difference is not to be underestimated.
Rather comfortingly, the nose and palate of a trained expert is almost as infallible as a person in a white coat squeezing things into test tubes.
Delicious Italy participated in an olive oil tasting exercise in the town hall of Castel del Piano near Montalcino in Tuscany. 15 olive oils were sampled and, as is the standard practice, a munch on a slice of apple and a sip of water separated each test.
It was explained how olive should always be judged using a dark glass. The opacity stops any visual prejudice as color is irrelevant to a good olive oil. The glass is a bulb shape to allow the oil to be warmed in the palms of the hand and to reach its optimum temperature of 29°c.
Like fine wine, it is not digested, but allowed to deconstruct in the mouth. True professional tasters undertake their work in exam conditions, in complete silence and separated from others, so the noisy, cold environment in the town hall of Castel del Piano was far from ideal.
Being rank beginners, after the 5th olive oil our senses were in overload and the final 10 all seemed the same. The expert conducting the demonstration efficiently and impressively ranked each. He was even able to explain how one olive oil had been ruined by the pressing process.
www.oliveoil.org - The National Organisation of Olive oil Tasters
www.umaoroma.it - Unione Mediterranea Assaggiatori Oil