A Beginner’s Guide to Olive Oil Tasting

A Beginner’s Guide to Olive Oil Tasting
By: Brightland

Tasting olive oil is both an art and a science, just like tasting wine, beer, whiskey, chocolate or anything else. You can hone your sensitivity to olive oil flavors with practice over time, but you need to do it the right way to get the most benefit out of your olive oil tastings. In this guide, we will walk you through each step of olive oil tastings, plus offer tips for pairing olive oil with food and for hosting your own olive oil tasting.

Ready to taste olive oil like a pro? Here is a simple guide to tasting olive oil:

how to taste olive oil
  1. Get the olive oils you want to taste. If you are deliberately buying the oil in order to taste it, we recommend choosing small bottles that hail from different regions and are made using different olives. This will allow you to spot the differences between them and to broaden your olive oil palate.

  2. Choose your olive oil tasting vessel. The pros use special blue glass cups that look like votive candle holders. The blue glass disguises the color of the olive oil, which can unconsciously affect judgments. Select an opaque glass if you can, but if you do not have one on hand, a wine glass is just fine.

  3. Pour one to two tablespoons (15-20 milliliters) into the tasting vessel. Hold the glass in your left hand and cover the top with your right. This will warm up the olive oil, causing it to release more aromas.

  4. Gently swirl the glass around in order to coat the sides of the glass and further release aromas. Notice the viscosity (or lack thereof) of the oil. Be careful not to swirl it too vigorously, as you do not want to get it on your hands.

  5. Raise the glass to your nose and remove your hand that is covering it. Inhale the olive oil’s aromas with your nose, and make a note of what it smells like. Is it fruity? Bitter? Pungent? Something else?

  6. Take a small sip of the oil while inhaling, which will heighten the flavor even more. Make sure to sip enough oil to fully coat your tongue. Let the oil sit for just a moment, noting any flavors as you noted the aromas in the previous step.

  7. Close your mouth and breathe out through your nose to activate your retronasal perception. Because your mouth and nose connect together, this will open up new aromas and flavors.

  8. Swallow the oil, paying attention to what tastes and sensations that you feel on the way down. Pungency can be felt in the throat, similar to the spicy kick that chilis create when you eat them. That pungent, sharp feeling is actually caused by the antioxidant-rich polyphenols found in high quality olive oils. In certain olive oils, the pungency can actually be strong enough to trigger the coughing reflex. You may also notice some bitterness, which is a common note in olive oils, especially those made from younger, greener olives. Finally, look out for fruity notes, which also includes vegetable and herb tastes. The intersection of these three elements — pungency, bitterness and fruitiness – is what gives each olive oil its distinctive taste.

  9. If you want to, you may wish to make some tasting and aroma notes before moving onto the next olive oil.

  10. Clear out your palate with some water, either plain or sparkling, and some slices of Granny Smith apples, which is the traditional palate cleanser during pro olive oil tastings.

  11. When you feel ready, move on to the next olive oil.
We're so excited to carry this awesome line of Olive Oil and Vinegar at Wish Gifts. Big shoutout to Brightland for sharing their tasting tips with us. Find the original article here. Shop our Foodies collection to get started on your own tasting!


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