Olive oil tasting is similar to wine tasting: just like wines, olive oils have a very wide variety of tastes and aromas. A tasting can both sharpen your palate and allow you to identify what kind of oil you prefer. Stage a home tasting of at least three and no more than five oils as a prelude to your next dinner party: it’s a fun way to get the evening started and pique both appetites and curiosity.
The three basic categories to consider when tasting olive oil are fruitiness, pungency, and bitterness. To really impress your fellow tasters, we suggest throwing out terms like herbaceous, buttery, grassy, peppery, and so on.
Now you’re ready to taste the golden harvest!
- Pour a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil into a stemless wineglass. (The pros use special blue glasses that are intended to disguise the color of the oil, which says little about the flavor but might unconsciously affect judgment.)
- Cup the glass in your hands and swirl the oil gently to release aromas.
- Stick your nose in the glass, and inhale deeply.
- Slurp a mouthful of oil while inhaling noisily, just as your mother taught you not to eat soup. Drawing air in heightens the flavor. Then, breathe out through your nose.
- Swallow while concentrating on the flavor.
- On your own, consider carefully first the general categories (fruitiness, pungency, bitterness), and then expand from there. Write down your observations, and then compare with your fellow tasters.
- Between oils, cleanse your palate with a thin slice of Granny Smith apple or a cube of plain bread.