Like wines, olive oils have complex notes ranging from buttery to grassy to peppery and everything in between. We can classify olive oils into either the delicate, medium or intense category, and the tasting notes of each category have distinct differences.
A fun way to become familiar with the different tasting notes, and to learn what types of olive oil you and your family prefer, is to host an olive oil tasting party. Tasting olive oil is a simple sensory experience that is sure to impress your guests, here’s how easy it is.
What You’ll Need:
- We recommend trying two or three different oils in each category to get a good idea of the flavour profiles and nuances of each style. Most importantly, you want to be tasting quality extra virgin olive oils, so look out for the SA Olive Association CTC seal of approval on the bottles.
- Professional tasters use blue coloured tasting glasses so that they cannot be influenced by the colour of the oil, stemless wine glasses also work great for tasting.
- Cleansing your palate in-between samples is important, a simple slice of a tart Granny Smith apple and plain water biscuits will suffice.
- Finally, your guests will need tasting sheets and writing implements with which to jot down their tasting notes. For a casual tasting, rate fruitiness (the aroma), bitterness (on the tongue) and pungency (in the back of the throat), as well as balance among the three on a scale of 1 to 10.
How To Taste:
When doing your tasting, start with the mild oils and end with the intense oils. When sipping the olive oil, pour a small amount, about 1 cm, into a stemless wine glass. Using your hands to warm the olive oil, cup the glass and swirl the oil around to release the aroma. Then smell the oil and take in a small sip. Peppery oils are characterized by more polyphenols, which you can feel in your throat after sipping the oil.
You and you guests will probably notice the different profiles of the olive oils: “Sweet and Buttery,” “Medium and Green,” and “Assertive and Peppery.”
It’s also a good idea to try dipping cubes of bread into the oils too add another sensory dimension.
Enjoy compiling and comparing the results of your tasting with your guests. Over time, you’ll be able to dial in your preferences and detect nuances across various types and varieties of olive oil.
Here is a list of top quality, award winning local olive oils we suggest using for your olive oil tasting party, in each category.