Olive oil tasting, sensory experience.
What is a tasting and how is it done?
Olive oil tasting is a 100% sensory experience where the senses of smell and taste play a key role.
In this stage we look at the olive oil, trying to discern whether it is limpid, opaque or opalescent opaque. The color of olive oils may be within the range of yellow, golden and greenish shades. There exists a classification of colors that may correspond to defects, like reddish, off-white and brownish shades. But this stage is not decisive to estimate the quality of olive oils, so the EU´s rules on the general methodology and the organoleptic assessment criteria to be applied to olive oils do not refer to it.
Some desirable traits are fruity with a touch of apple, banana, fig, ripe fruit or unripe fruit, tomato, green grass or green olive leaves. Some negative traits are sour, vinegary, moldy, rancid and musty.
In the mouth we will detect the intensity of flavors, both fruity and green grass, tomato, mint or olive green leaves, among others. In the same way, we will perceive the different degrees of bitterness and pungency, which may be of low, medium or high intensity. And we will also feel the consistency of the oil, which may be mellow, soft, fluid or watery. Flavors that remind of dry leaves, mold, muddy or rotten are some of the negative attributes perceived by the palate.
At the end of the sensory tasting, tasters note the presence of qualities and defects, assessing and specifying the degree to which positive and negative attributes are perceived using a scale that goes from 0 minimum intensity to 10 maximum intensity. And this will define the profile of each of the samples.
The harmony and complexity of olive oils depends on the balance between scents and flavors. Harmonic olive oils are those which reach a balance between scent and flavor. On the other hand, unbalanced olive oils are those in which intensities are not weighted.
Tasting at Home
It is very easy to enjoy an olive oil tasting. There is no need to go to a tasting center or be an expert taster or panelist. Just be willing to discover more about this simple product, with its extraordinary qualities in terms of nutrition and health. YOU CAN ORGANIZE YOUR OWN OLIVE OIL TASTING AT HOME!
Professional tasters use a deep blue tasting cup. These cups hide the color of olive oil, so that tasters are not influenced by it, as in fact color is not a quality criterion. If you are at home, simply use a small wineglass. Pour a little bit of olive oil, about one or two tablespoons, into the wineglass, until the bottom of the glass is totally covered. Warm the wineglass with your hands until the olive oil reaches a temperature of about 28 °C, as this will help you perceive its scents.
Now is when the olfactory stage starts. The taster smells the sample, inhaling briefly during a few seconds. A mix of smells will invade the taster´s nostrils. The most intense smells are identified first, such as fresh-cut grass or apple and almond – all of these known as fruity hints. The negative attributes are quickly revealed; it will be very easy to identify an olive oil with defects and one with no defects.
After the olfactory analysis, the taster will consider its flavor. Take a sip of about 3 g, so that the olive oil reaches all the taste buds within the mouth, covering the frontal part and the tongue, the sides of the mouth and also the back and the palate. The explosion of flavors invades the palate and then the sense of touch will also be important. The taster holds his breath, keeping his tongue close to the palate and his lips slightly open, and then relaxes. It is through this contact that the taster can assess texture, and determines whether the olive oil is mellow, fluid or watery. Share this symphony of aromas, flavors and textures with your family and friends!