Olive Oil Tasting Technique
EVOO does have flavour. If you are tasting one that doesn’t, it is either an extremely mild varietal, or it is old and no longer carries forth its flavour or its health benefits (they evaporate over time).
Similar to the culture surrounding wine tasting, there is actually a technique that has been developed to taste olive oil to detect and enjoy its different notes and health benefits. Professional olive oil tasters sip olive oil straight, from a small glass vial similar to a shot glass. They cup the glass to heat the oil just slightly, thereby increasing its aroma and detectable flavour profile. This is important if you are sampling olive oils that may have only subtle differences.
The next step is to sniff the oil to contemplate its pungency and any different aromas it might carry. Then, when sipping the oil, it is beneficial to think about three different areas of taste:
Flavour. Is the EVOO grassy, or fruity, or maybe nutty? How much flavour does it have? Does it taste fresh? Does it taste pleasant?
Bitterness. A certain amount of bitterness should be present. Fresh olives themselves are distinctly bitter, so if your oil is not bitter, it’s actually not a good sign. Bitterness doesn’t have to be a negative quality, and certainly when you use EVOO with other ingredients or food, the bitterness is tempered. So bitterness level should be noted. Is it mildly bitter or distinctly bitter?
Aftertaste. The aftertaste is very interesting as it is typically described as peppery. A high degree of pepperiness or warmth in the back of the throat indicates the amount of polyphenols present in the oil. It is common to feel your throat warm up, and even give a little cough, if the EVOO is high in polyphenols.
Other tasting characteristics to note include mouthfeel, creaminess, sweetness, acidity, and more. Check out this article from the Olive Oil Times on tasting EVOO.
Our EVOOs range from mild to robust in these areas, which means there is very likely an EVOO out there that will be pleasing to your palate. Whether you desire something mild that will blend in with all your cooking and baking, or something robust for a prominent flavour in your salad dressings or marinades, a tasting room like ours is the best way to find an EVOO that is right for you.
So come on down to enjoy a tasting experience at Prairie Oils today!
Paul Vossen, Professional Taste-tester
Paul Vossen is an international olive oil specialist on production and sensory evaluation. He has led hundreds of olive oil sensory panels and his own olive oil taste panel has been recognized internationally.
Vossen evaluates all of our EVOOs for the flavour and feel, notes and nuances of truly great oil. All of our EVOOs carry a Paul Vossen rating and a flavour description provided directly from Vossen himself.
California olive growers have dubbed Vossen the "Godfather of California Olive Oil". His beautiful palate is your guide to experiencing the fresh, glorious taste of some of the world's finest Extra Virgin Olive Oils.
Click here to browse our collection of Super Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oils and see their Paul Vossen qualifications.