Although there are professional tasters who apply the procedure of the International Oleic Council, everyone can recognise an excellent oil by following simple rules. First of all, the colour of extra virgin olive oil, depending on various factors (cultivar, ripening of olives, production methodology…), is not decisive to determine its quality.
Let’s start from the very beginning:
- take a little glass and a green apple (it will clean your mouth after every taste)
- after pouring a spoonful of oil into the glass, warm it up with your hands, paying attention to cover it in order to avoid fading the volatile aromatic components that the heat will exalt
- inhale the oil several times to perceive the various aromas it will release
- drink a small amount of oil without swallowing and divide it between tongue and palate
- tighten your teeth by breathing air several times. The volatile components will evaporate and the aromas will excite the taste buds.
- at this point you can memorise sensations and expel the oil.
Now you will be able to give judgments on the extra virgin olive oil you have tasted, distinguishing merits and defects that we can describe as follows:
Fruity: It is the distinct scent of an olive at the right point of ripeness, delicate or intense. The best Extra virgin olive oils preserve this aroma for months.
Bitter and spicy: Polyphenols and powerful antioxidants are responsible for the bitter and spicy taste typical of the best extra virgin olive oils. It is an indicator of the goodness of the oil obtained from olives that have just become dark and fade over time.
Sweet: The absence of the notes described above is the premise of this delicate and slightly aromatic flavour.
Mould: The poor preservation of the olives, stored for a longer time in unsuitable environment or containers, causes a fermentation phenomenon that gives this unpleasant taste.
Rancid: Unsuitable oil storage (exposure to light and heat sources) causes oxidation phenomena that are the reason of this really unpleasant and disgusting taste.
Sludge: When oil is in contact with sediments that form on the bottom of the containers, this unpleasant smell is generated. By carefully filtering or transferring the extra virgin olive oil, this defect can be avoided.
Screwed and soured: The sugar content of non-fresh olives and amurca that may not be present in the oil yet (due to an incorrect production process) causes fermentation phenomena that are the reason of this sensation of vinegar or wine.