Olive Oil Tasting
Official Olive Oil Tasting: A method approved by the IOOC (International Olive Oil Council based in Spain) is used for the organoleptic assessment of an olive oil. This method, officially called “Organoleptic Assessment of Virgin Olive oil” lays down the physical conditions for tasting . Under standardized conditions, the method makes it possible to establish, as objectively as possible, whether or not defects are present. Tasters are assessing the negative attributes of olive oils. The final rating is awarded on the basis of a scale of points running from 0 (which indicates that the oil has clearly perceived, extremely intense defects), to 9 (which indicates that it has no defect whatsoever).
When tasting olive oils:
- The aroma accounts for 30% of the final assessment
- The taste accounts for 60% of the final assessment
- The appearance accounts for 10% of the final assessment
Throw an Olive Oil Tasting Party:
Tasting olive oil is an art and requires a large amount of knowledge and practice, but it can also be fun and educational. If you are passionate about foods and flavors and want to expand your culinary knowledge, why not throw an olive oil tasting party? A tasting party is a fun and educational way to eat great food, learn more about olive oil, experience a vast array of different and exciting flavors, and have fun with friends and family. Here are some tips on how to bring O&CO. to your next Olive Oil tasting party:
- Have each of your guests bring a bottle of O&CO olive oil. (they can all be from the same country, different countries, all herbaceous, all floral, or a mixture of all - be creative!) You may want to limit your tasting to no more than 8 oils.
- Set aside some French bread, a tasting sheet for each guest, large ramequins, small tasting cups or spoons, and sliced apples or sparkling water to clear the palate after tasting.
- Pour the olive oil into a disposable cup and keep the cup covered until the moment of tasting.
- For each olive oil that you taste, you should spend a few moments warming the cup in your hands to release the volatile scents of the oil.
- Before tasting the oil, uncover the glass and smell the olive oil: your olfactory evaluation, while less important than your taste, gives you your first indications of the quality and type of oil.
- Many parts of the tongue and mouth are involved in tasting: roll the olive oil around in your mouth to determine the texture and its affect on the tip (for sweetness) and sides (for spiciness) of the tongue.
- Choose descriptive terms from those listed above.
- Taste each oil twice: before each tasting, you should drink some sparkling mineral water or eat a slice of apple to cleanse the palate.
- Share! Share your opinions with the others in the group, discuss taste, texture, and smell.
- We recommend starting with the milder, floral oils (blue label) and progressing towards the greener, grassier oils (green label) which are stronger in flavor. Also, do not eat, drink coffee, or smoke before or in between a tasting. Most importantly, HAVE FUN!
It is necessary to assess the color of the olive oil. Usually, it ranges from a pale yellow to a deep cloudy green. It is likely than the latter is an indication the oil is from green, barely ripe olives, and that it has a wonderful, intensely fruity taste and freshness. Some consumers wrongfully think that the greener the oil, the better. So, some producers that are more interested in making money than in the quality of their olive oil, deliberately add leaves to the crusher to give a paler, oxidized oil the aura of a better lineage than it actually has. Yellow oils usually indicate the olives were picked late in the season when they were black and ripe, producing a sweeter, rounder oil. A lighter color can also signify oxidation, a result of the oil’s exposure to sunlight or other light.
Aroma and Taste: An olive oil is usually either:
- Floral & Sweet
- Vegetal & Herbaceous
- Spicy & Bold
- But it also has many different bouquets: The easiest way to describe these flavors is by reference to other attributes just like it is done for wine.
- Fruity: apple, melon, banana, mango, pear, green apple, lemon, walnut, fresh almond, bitter almond
- Floral: acacia, hawthorn, honey, lime blossom
- Vegetal: artichoke, tomato leaves, fennel, new-mown hay, straw, salad leaves, and grass.
- Spicy: pepper. It is worth remembering here that the sensation of pepper increases as you add hot flavors o the palate. Thus the third or fourth oil you taste may seem more peppery than the first even if they are both at about the same level.
- Animal: cream, butter, milk
- Chocolate: dark chocolate
- Describing an olive oil using those tasting notes does not mean that the oil smells exactly like these attributes, but that its aromas and flavors are reminiscent of them.