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How to Taste Olive Oil

How to Taste Olive Oil

Stage an olive oil tasting as a prelude to your next dinner party: we promise you will pique both appetites and curiosity (and get the evening started with a peppery kick!). 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.

The three basic categories to consider when tasting olive oil are delicate, medium, and intense. To really impress your fellow tasters, we suggest throwing out terms like fruity, pungent, bitter, herbaceous, buttery, grassy, peppery, and so on.

Choose at least three and no more than five oils to taste to maintain balance (and keep the activity fresh!). Now, you're ready to taste!

1. POUR.

First, 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.

2. SWIRL.

Cup the glass in your hands and swirl the oil gently to release aromas.

3. BREATHE.

Stick your nose in the glass, and inhale deeply.

4. SLURP.

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.

5. SWALLOW.

Swallow while concentrating on the flavor.

6. THINK ABOUT IT.

Consider quietly carefully first the general categories (fruitiness, pungency, bitterness), and then expand from there. Write down your observations, and then compare with your fellow tasters.

7. CLEANSE.

Refresh your palate between oils with a thin slice of Granny Smith apple or a cube of plain bread.

8. REPEAT!

'Nuff said.

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Explore our selection of olive oil bottles and gift boxes online or in our markets! Check out our grove-to-table guide on olive oil for tips on how to navigate the oft-intimidating shelves.

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