February 5, 2021 by D.Fathia
Updated February 9, 2021
Olive oil tasting
Olive trees, oil, and byproducts have gained respect through the ages. It has an aura of transcendence, grandiose, and loftiness. The tree has been associated with peace and serenity. The oil has been elevated to colossal ranks above all types of oils.
Growing up in a family that adores olive and who dedicates both time and effort to cultivate, take care of, and harvest olives, I used to think that olive oil runs in the DNA of my family. Opening up to my environment and the world I released that olive oil is part of the human race’s DNA.
People have developed unexplainable bonds with the olive tree. The knowledge that has been passed down since antiquity combined with modern practices to yield sophisticated methods for classifying olive oil. Olive oil tasting is now a global codified practice.
What is olive oil tasting and how to perform it?
If you are familiar with wine tasting then you won’t have a problem understanding what we are talking about. Olive oil has different varieties and qualities. Olive oil tasting is an agreed-upon practice to judge the quality of the oil-based on certain predefined norms and characteristics.
The activity is codified by the International Olive Council; this body made available a standard tasting sheet. The organization has specific tasting requirements; it describes the room to be used, the types of equipment to be available at hand, and the profile sheet and related judging criteria.
Sensory analysis of table olives relies on personal judgments as perceived by sight, smell, taste, and hearing.
The profile sheet includes three categories: negative, gustatory, and kinaesthetic sensations. The first describes abnormal fermentation and any defects. The second defines the flavor, whether it is salty, acidic, or bitter. The third category deals with texture, be it hardiness, crunchiness, or fibrousness.
There exist training programs for olive oil tasting. Experts are responsible for choosing the best tasting olive oil in national and international competitions. It is indeed a fun and enjoyable activity to perform.
Olive oil tasting near me:
Most big olives producers and companies are now hosting their private tasting parties and establishing permanent tasting rooms. If you are thinking about paying a visit to one of these showrooms, then consider the following options:
California accounts for most of the US oil production and has several companies with numerous tasting rooms for each. Ojai Olive Oil Company offers free tours and tastings.Olive Oil Taproom offers tasting opportunities and educates about the characteristics of extra virgin olive oil and its related health benefits. It trains people on how to taste and judge the oils at hand.You can find tasting rooms across the world, watch live tasting events, and be part of the judging panels if well trained. It is a habit worth fostering.
Seems interesting? Throw a tasting party on your own!
If you are a fan of olive oil and wish to have a tasting activity you can organize one with family and friends. You can host a gathering solely to taste or you can make it a pre-dinner activity to seduce the appetite.
The process is quite simple. Pour your different oil types in tasting glasses, gather around the table, and get prepared to be overwhelmed. First of all, swirl the oil in your glass and smell the spreading aroma, sip a bit of the oil and let it slowly spread on your tongue and palate, and finally swallow it.
You can write down your impressions during each phase or simply memorize them and speak your final judgment at the end. You need to remember that some types might have extreme pungent or bitter tastes. Make sure you are ready for all flavors.
A blind panel: aspiring olive lovers
Scrolling through the daily news, one unique story grabbed my full attention. Mariem Gharsallaoui, a Tunisian researcher at the TunisianInstitut de l’Olivier,championed an initiative to form a tasting panel with blind members only.
The supervising team is now attempting to change the International Olive Council’s tasting sheet with a digital substitute since the former cannot be accessible to their trainees. They hope to get the approval of the IOC. Hopefully, they will be the pioneering blind olive oil tasting panel in the world.
The initiative is a reminder that physical weaknesses or handicaps do not and should not stand in the way of achieving success. Those young enthusiastic people are capable of doing the same task as other tasters.
One fact that might work in favor of the panel is that deficiency in one sensory input can be the reason for heightening other senses. This is not only common or presupposed knowledge; it has been scientifically proved with studies such as one from Stanford University.
General wisdom suggests that if one sense is lost then the person affected would learn to compensate for the loss by developing the remaining senses. In fact, the areas of the brain dedicated to handling the information of the sense of vision, for example, adapt to the lack of that particular sense by being active for other senses.
Cross-modal neuroplasticity comes to the rescue of such an inspiring and aspiring blind panel.
Quick tips on how to use the best tasting olive oils:
Oranges with honey and olive oil: slice a few oranges in round shapes after peeling them of course; place them on a plate; drizzle honey and extra virgin olive oil on top. There you have an appetizer, palate refresher, or even a snack.
EVOO is the best tasting olive oil. You can add it to any dish you like; it is both tasty and health-friendly. Drizzling a few drops on your cooked meals or pouring it with salad dressings is always a rewarding routine.