EVOO: Tasting


• Visual analysis

By observing the oil, we can not only determine its color, by also evaluate such features as transparency and density, etc. It should, however, be taken into consideration that dark colored containers may be used. In general, visual analysis is not an influential factor in the tasting.

Negative features such as turbidity, along with excessively dark color are factors to consider.

On the other hand, it is positive if the oil is clean and slightly dark.

The tasting process involves sampling the product in order to determine its features and flavor.

When the TASTING is done with extra virgin olive oil, a sensorial analysis is carried out using the senses of smell, taste and touch.

Simple vision does not offer any definitive information.

The dark glass container of oil is kept covered with a watch glass until the tasting begins.

• Analysis of flavor

Taste is the sense derived from the taste buds located on the tongue. Flavor analysis is of primary importance in olive oil classification, because by means of the sensations offered by the palate, we can evaluate both the intensity of the flavor as well as the quality.

Each type of flavor is perceived by a different part of the tongue.

Sweetness: This is perceived at the tip of the tongue, where the fungiform papillae are located.

Sourness: This is perceived on the back part of the tongue, where the circumvallate papillae are located.

Saltiness and acidic: These are perceived on the front and central sides of the tongue, respectively.

•Aftertaste: This appears when certain flavors infiltrate and remain for a few seconds in the mouth.

•Excellent tastings can be done with plenty of practice and the guidance of an expert.

• The harmony of flavors and aromas

After perceiving the aromas and flavors, the taster then judges the harmony between the two.

Oils regarded as fruity: Those that reflect the features of the olives themselves.

Oils regarded as balanced: Those that have the greatest harmony between taste and smell.

Oils regarded as unbalanced: Those that, as the name indicates, have some flavor or odor that stands out in some special way.

The procedure is then as follows:

1)Olfactory stage

2)Tasting stage

*Given that the flavor of an oil can distort the taste perception of the following oil, it is recommendable to consume a bit of apple or bread, along with some water between oils.

Proper conditions for a tasting:

• Ambient temperature should range between 20º and 23º C.

• The ideal temperature for the oil is 28º C.

• The amateur taster should not consume any food for at least an hour before the tasting.

• The taster should not have a cold.

• If the taster is a smoker, he or she should not smoke beforehand.

• When one smells the olive oil, the container should be shaken a bit to move the oil and disperse it - similar to what is done when wine tasting.

• Analysis of aroma

The olfactory sense is more sensitive than other senses. We can perceive characteristics through smell that are not apparent with those other senses. Extra virgin olive oil contains aromatic substances that can develop over time, either intensifying its aroma or, on the contrary, concealing it.

The shape of the container is very important when engaged in a tasting. The cup or glass should have a wide enough opening so as to provide the keenest olfactory perception.

Aroma sensations are classified according to their strength and intensity - ranging from agreeable to disagreeable.

An oil can present aromas similar to different fruits or herbs, such as green or mature olives, figs, apples, tomatoes, or green mint leaves. These odors are regarded as agreeable, and therefore POSITIVE.

As for those odors regarded as NEGATIVE, one can quite easily perceive strange smells that are disagreeable, such as vinegary, rancid or moldy. Other negative odors include sourness, rottenness, metallic smells or the smell of vegetable water - the result of olive oil affected by a poorly done decanting process.