Classification and tasting of olive oil


03 November 2020

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Depending on its place of origin and the variety of olives used, olive oil has a wide range of flavors and fragrances and the consumer must choose and buy the type that best suits their particular taste and the food to be prepared. Extra virgin olive oil is like a good wine. Its flavor and aroma can be easily distinguished by the nose and palate, then discussed and dissected. A series of requirements are declared in national and international regulations to identify commercial standards for olive oils. Quality is measured in two steps: acidity assessment and taste test.

According to the International Olive Council (IOOC), these are the categories:

1) VIRGIN OLIVE OIL is the oil obtained from the fruit of the olive tree only by mechanical or other physical means under conditions, particularly thermal, that do not lead to the alteration of the oil. It has not been subjected to any other treatment other than washing, decanting, centrifuging and filtering. When virgin olive oil is intended for consumption in its natural state, it receives one of the following names:

a - The Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a maximum acidity of 1% and the organoleptic characteristics stipulated in the standards for this category;
b - Virgin olive oil has a maximum acidity of 2% and the organoleptic characteristics stipulated in the standards for this category;
c - Ordinary virgin olive oil has a maximum acidity of 3% and the organoleptic characteristics stipulated in the standards for this category;
d - Lampante Virgin Olive Oil has more than 3.3% acidity and organoleptic characteristics stipulated in the standards for this category. It is not suitable for consumption in its original state and must be refined before use as food.

2) REFINED OLIVE OIL is obtained from virgin olive oils, generally Lampante, by refining methods that do not alter the initial glyceride structure of the oil.

3) OLIVE OIL is a specific food term for a mixture of refined olive oil and virgin olive oil suitable for consumption as is.

When buying olive oil, consider how you will use it, how it will enhance your cooking style. For dipping and drizzling or if you have a fantastic salad, pasta, red meat or some grilled veggies, you will probably need a full bodied, great tasting oil and could opt for a hint of olive with a tomato base flavor (typical with oils produced in Sicily) or artichoke (Tuscany and central regions of Italy).

Taste the oil on different foods and determine if it enhances your meal or is too overwhelming for a delicate fish, for example. Another oil might be better drizzled over your pasta or fantastic with some hot bread ... choose the right oil like you would choose the right fine wine! An official extra virgin olive oil tasting is carried out after chemical testing to determine if the oil meets the standards. The tasters must follow the rules of conduct established by the IOC. Our experience with non-food professionals taught us that anyone can learn to taste well. You can replicate at home the same procedure that professional olive oil tasters follow to judge olive oil.

To start your tasting experience, you will only need a small plastic cup, a bottle of olive oil, and a glass of water. You will get a better result if you do not drink coffee or smoke at least 30 minutes before the scheduled time for your test and if you do not use any perfume, cosmetic or soap that may remain during the test. In general, we suggest tasting at least three or four different oils made with different species of olives to discover different flavors and intensities. You will find many different species of olives used in the oils that we offer in our Selection. Pour just a small amount of olive oil into the cup (enough to cover the bottom), hold the top and bottom of the cup between your hands to warm it up a bit, and swirl it for at least a minute.


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