Most olive oil aficionados are well acquainted with the little blue glasses used to conduct a sensory evaluation of an olive oil sample. The taste of the oil is the most important factor when analyzing the olive oil, one should never consider the colour of the oil, which has no bearing on its quality and therefore the blue glass is used to disguise the colour.
For that reason, in 2007, the International Olive Council established a tasting glass standard in cobalt blue, which has been dutifully followed by tasting panels around the world ever since.
Now, a glassware designer and the University of Jaén think they’ve found a more appropriate colour for the renowned olive oil tasting glass, and it’s very much the opposite of the traditional blue.
Until now the classic color of the professional cup was a blue colour, however, we have determined that this is not a suitable colour for the purpose the standard describes. The optimal colour for this is the one that we present that has reddish tones. – José Juan Gaforio, head of the Center for Advanced Studies in Olive Oil and Olives.
While it might be true that red better suppresses yellow and green hues, the color red has also been found to hinder motivation and the ability to think, and trigger strong, often negative psychological responses, noted Olive Oil Times publisher Curtis Cord in a tweeted response to the creators of the new glass.
While Cord is open to switching to a new utensil, he is not convinced that red would be a better colour.
What’s worse: a pleasing blue vessel that not entirely conceals the colour of an oil sample, or a glass that’s red — nature’s cue for danger, the symbolic color of warning signs and poison labels? – Curtis Cord.
A number of other experts have described red as a manipulative colour that affects all aspects of behavior and has huge power to influence how we perceive things.
And, as Juliet Zhu, a University of British Columbia psychologist noted, “Think about red, and what comes to mind: stop lights, stop signs, danger, ambulances. Blue is the colour of the sky, the ocean, safety. When their environment is safe, people are more explorative.”
From these perspectives, it doesn’t look like the traditional blue olive oil tasting glass will be replaced by a red glass any time soon, although it would be very interesting to see how sensory conclusions may differ when tasting with the red glass.