TASTING

 Is it possible to distinguish the quality and place of origin of an extra virgin olive oil by simply tasting it? Yes.

 

Organic Analysis

A  preliminary operation: a small quantity of oil (approx. 20 ml) is placed into a dark, rounded glass and, keeping it covered with one hand, you try, with the other to warm it in order to concentrate the odours, then agitate it slightly so that the contents adhere to all the surfaces of the glass.

 

Appearance

In evaluating the oil, the visual aspect is not particularly important since the brilliance is not an indicator of quality, in addition, the various shades of colour (from green to yellow) are principally due to the level of maturity of the olives and of the variety of tree from which they came, not to mention the type of extraction process.

 

The Olfactory Test

The glass should be brought towards the nose and the smell of the oil should be inhaled quickly and deeply. From the perfume of the oil the fragrance of the fruit and its good  qualities (fresh fruity, green, etc.) can be evaluated, while certain defects (mould, overheating, bitterness, etc.) can be recognised from the less pleasing odours, which the taste test should confirm. A blue coloured glass is usually used in order to disguise the colour of the oil in order not to influence our judgement.

 

The Taste Test

The oil should be tasted straight from the glass, at first slowly and delicately, then more vigorously and, above all, aspirating at the same time, bringing the oil into contact with all the taste buds. It is recommended not to be in a hurry to expel the oil: certain defects, in fact, can only be recognised if the oil stays in the mouth for a certain amount of time.

 

Conclusion

The tactile, taste and olfactory sensations lead one to the final judgement, which also takes into consideration the combined harmony of the sensations with the correct terminology to use in defining an extra virgin olive oil, divided into positive and negative terminology.

 

POSITIVE ATTRIBUTES

 Bitter: Characteristic taste of an oil obtained from green olives: if other attributes do not prevaricate, it is considered a positive attribute.

Harmonious: This is said of an oil whose components of perfume, taste and fluidity are in perfect balance.

Sweet: Pleasant taste, not very aromatic, in which other attributes stand out, such as pungent, bitter and astringent. It can also have a desired aftertaste of almonds.

Fresh: This describes an oil which has just been extracted, which strongly tastes and smells of olives, its fruit of origin. This quality is not stable and disappears rapidly if it is not sustained by the fruitiness, that is by the presence of good flavoured, invaluable and stable essences and components.

Mature Fruity: This describes the aroma of oil obtained from mature fruit; generally light and with a sweetish taste.

Green Fruity: Lasting aromatic notes; the smell and taste are reminiscent of healthy, fresh

fruits, picked at the moment of maturity.

Pure Taste Of Olive: This is one of the characteristics that make up its fruitiness.

Taste Of Almonds: This usually accompanies sweetness, but it can also be encountered in the aftertaste of aromatic oils. It is the flavour of the sweet or bitter almond, which within certain limits represents a good attribute.

Apple: The perfume that is reminiscent in the various varieties: the most frequent is “Golden Delicious”.

Pungent: A pungent sensation which is noticed as an aftertaste.

Rounded: This describes an oil which derives from mature olives, full-bodied, without outstanding aromatic notes.

Green Vegetables: This describes the taste and perfume reminiscent of vegetables or fruits

both fresh and dried (artichokes, cardoons, green tomatoes, etc.).

Green Grass: Aroma which is reminiscent of freshly cut grass.

Green Leaves: Aroma which is reminiscent of the bitter fragrance of fresh leaves.

 

OTHER ATTRIBUTES: These are all the other pleasant sensations due to the fruit and its provenance (flowers, almond taste, other fruit).

 

NEGATIVE ATTRIBUTES

Sour – Wine – Acid: This describes an aroma which is reminiscent of wine or vinegar. Perceptible both by smell and taste, it is caused by the fermentation of vegetation water which has not been completely eliminated in the working stage, with the consequent formation of acetic acid and other unpleasant tasting components.

Bitter: Unpleasant and excessive, this indicates that the oil has been extracted from olives which have been harvested when unripe; it can co-exist with an intense leaf flavour and prove to have little consistency in its structure, which can alter over time to leave a dry flavour.

Cooked: This defect derives from excessive heating of the paste or of the must during the

working phase.

Ice: This is not easy to detect by smell. The defect has a dry taste and is caused by the olives freezing on the tree during cold weather before the harvest, which produces an unpleasant smell.

Metalic: An aroma reminiscent of metal. It is a defect due to over-long contact with metal surfaces during the milling and storing phases.

Marc Or Deposits: The typical odour of oil overlong in contact with the impurities that deposit on the bottom of the container over time.

Rough: Perception that produces a dense and pasty flavour.

Rancid: An aroma characteristic of a badly preserved oil in contact with the air or high temperatures.

Overheating: An aroma characteristic of oil obtained from olives packed together in containers without air, which have started to ferment with the development of heat and an unpleasant combination of the typical odour and taste.

Mould: An characteristic aroma due to keeping the fruits or oil in damp places which causes fungi and yeast to develop.

 

Other Attributes: These are all the other unpleasant sensations that can be due to the state of the olives in the working phase and due to the storing of the olives prior to pressing.


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