Olive Oil Tasting: A Journey Through Flavor
There’s nothing quite like the taste of a good olive oil. From its fruity notes to its peppery finish, every drop is a symphony of flavors that can elevate any dish it touches. But how do we know what makes a great olive oil? And why is it so important to pay attention to the nuances of flavor in this precious liquid gold?
To find out, I sat down with expert sommelier and olive oil taster, Maria Perez. With over 10 years of experience in the industry, she has honed her palate to distinguish even the slightest differences in flavor among different varieties and brands of olive oil.
As we begin our tasting journey, Maria explains that there are three main factors that contribute to the flavor profile of an olive oil: the type of olives used, the region where they were grown, and the production process itself.
First up on our tasting list is a delicate Spanish Arbequina variety. As we inhale deeply from our glasses, Maria instructs me to take note of any aromas or scents present. “I’m getting hints of green apple,” she says as she swirls her glass around before taking a sip. “And on my tongue I can taste some grassy notes.”
Next up is an Italian Frantoio variety which boasts more pungent aromas due to its higher levels of polyphenols (a type of antioxidant). “This one definitely has some bitterness and pepperiness at first,” says Maria after taking a sip. “But then you get these lovely floral undertones towards the end.”
As we move through our tasting flight – including Greek Koroneiki and Californian Mission varieties – I begin to appreciate just how nuanced each individual bottle can be. While some are indeed fruity or nutty as advertised on their labels, others have unexpected flavors like tomato leaf or artichoke.
But why does any of this matter? According to Maria, paying attention to the flavor profile of your olive oil can be the difference between a good meal and a great one. “If you’re splurging on high-quality ingredients for a special occasion, it’s worth taking the time to choose an olive oil that complements those flavors,” she says. “Plus, once you start noticing these differences in taste it becomes its own kind of adventure – like exploring different regions through your food.”
As our tasting comes to a close, I feel grateful for having experienced such a diverse array of flavors in just one afternoon. While I may not be able to afford some of the more expensive bottles we tried today, I now know what to look for when shopping for my next bottle at home. Who knew something as simple as olive oil could be so complex and fascinating?