Guide to tasting extra virgin olive oil

Guide to tasting extra virgin olive oil?

How do you taste oil? You do not need to be an expert to recognize whether an extra virgin olive oil is of good quality. By repeating the tasting a few times and applying the rules below, you will definitely be able to distinguish a poor oil from a quality one.

First of all, you need to have a small glass or even a plastic glass (professional tasters use a blue glass to make the color of the oil neutral and prevent it from affecting their judgment) and an apple, which will be used to cancel out the sensations between tastings. 






Visual perception

The first analysis to be performed is that of visual perception.

We begin by pouring two teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil into the glass; tilt and swirl the oil on the walls of the glass to assess its fluidity. Arranging the oil against the light will bring out the qualities inherent in body and cleanliness.  Extra virgin olive oil has a medium to low degree of fluidity, while high fluidity is typical of oils high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as seed oil. A green color stands for young harvest, while yellow for ripe fruit harvest.


Olfactory analysis

Next comes the 'olfactory analysis. Warm the contents of the glass in your hands for a few minutes, as explained in more detail below, until it reaches the optimum temperature of about 30°C, the right condition to bring out its volatile aromatic components. One will act with the palm of one hand shaking it lightly and covering it with the other hand in order to retain the aromas; then uncover the glass, bring it close to the nose and inhale slowly and deeply to detect the olfactory components of the oil, the first sensation should bring to mind the smell of the fruit then the freshly crushed olives. It will be necessary to repeat these operations several times so as to pick up the various nuances of the aromas present and sense the degree of intensity on a scale that may range from "barely perceptible" to "very intense." Having performed the test on the scent of the oil, it will be easy to use terms such as "green fruity" if the scent is reminiscent of that of unripe fruit and "ripe fruity" if it is reminiscent of the sweetness of late-ripening fruit. In this way it will be possible to identify the degree of ripeness of the olives.The more or less intense smell of olive in addition to smells of vegetables, fruit, grass or herbs will highlight sufficient elements to classify the quality of the oil in question.



Tasting will be done to discover some essential flavors such as bitter and spicy. Sip a small amount of oil by distributing it with the tongue throughout the mouth. During tasting, it is important to take in air with short, successive aspirations, tongue against the palate and half-open lips. Taste the oil for at least 20-30 seconds so as to cause the aroma to evaporate in the oral cavity, bringing it into direct contact with the taste buds, trying to memorize as many sensations as possible. The bitterness and spiciness of an extra virgin olive oil is a merit that takes on important value because of the high content of polyphenols (antioxidants). So many consumers mistake this merit for a defect by associating the perceived taste with a heavy or worse yet sour oil. The characteristic bitter and spicy aftertaste is considered a positive attribute by professional tasters, so high quality Oil should be bitter and spicy in a balanced way.


General rules

Technical tasting should be done by following some general rules of behavior:

1) Do not smoke at least 30 minutes before the tasting.

2) Do not use any perfume, soap or cosmetic whose odor persists at the time of the tasting.

3) Do not have ingested any food at least one hour before the tasting;

4) Make sure that one's physiological and psychological condition is positive, such that the analysis is not compromised.

At the end of the tasting to taste another sample of extra virgin oil, it is useful to eat a slice of apple so as to eliminate the taste and sensations perceived from the previous oil. If smells and flavors are well distinguishable and balanced with each other, it can be said to have tasted an excellent Extra Virgin Olive Oil.



To the sense of smell, it should enhance a fruity aroma, which could be smells of: crushed olives, olive leaves, freshly mowed grass, tomato, artichoke, almond, lettuce, etc.. On tasting, they should bring out the fruity, bitter and spicy aromas, all in a balanced measure.


AVVINATE: Cellar odor, due to alcoholic fermentation as a result of poor processing;

HEATED: Cheese odor, due to long and inadequate storage of olives awaiting milling;

MOLD: Moldy odor, due to too long and inadequate storage of olives awaiting milling;

MOLD: Smell of sludge, due to the oil not being decanted after decanting;

RANCHITE: Pungent odor and irritating taste in the throat, due to oxidation of the oil from poor storage with exposure to air and light or from dirty containers.


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