How to Taste Olive Oil

In January, The NY Times published an infographic put together by illustrator Nicholas Belcham. Its title? Extra Virgin Suicide: the Alduration of Italian Olive Oil.

It's a great  visual piece detailing the not so Italian olive oil food chain. We learn that much Italian Olive Oil doesn't come from Italy but from countries like Spain, Tunisia and Morocco and it's only the start, it gets much much worse. I leave you to have a look at it,
A couple of months later, in sunny Greenwich, I received a couple of tiny samples of Greek olive oil to raise awareness of D.O.P (Protected Designation of Origin) a label connected with a specific geographical area that define the quality, taste and other singular characteristics of a product.
 
Cause to effect, may be not and let's not be sinycal but if I were in the very lucrative olive oil business or liquid gold, as a mate of mine, himself a producer, calls it, I would definitely get worried about the bad press on the subject .
 
A point of interest in the infographic was that "to combat the fraud, the Italian Carabinieri relied on smell as lab test can be easily faked". Which brings us neatly to how to do a bit of Olive Oil tasting which was the subject of a previous post: Know Your Olive Oils.
 
 
 But in short, here is how to taste olive oil:

First place 15-20ml of oil in a small glass
Cut your hands around to glass to warm the liquid
Smell. Good olive oil should have a pleasant aroma
Then take on a piece of white bread and dip it in the oil, you should detect spiciness and fruitiness

"Spiciness is a peppery sensation at the back of the throat and a slight "burning"on the throat"

"Fuitiness is a sensation of freshly cut olive fruits and leaves when smelling the oil" there will also be a bit of bitterness

Tasting olive oil neat, without the bread is a revelation, only use a minute quantity, less than a teaspoon. I would be rather curious to know how it went, leave me a comment.

disclaimer: some of the tasting notes are from Olive Oil World a current, generic ,campaign to raise awarness about olive oil, some are from my own experience.

 


 

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