Today’s post was written by Beth Scanlon of Olio Tasting Room.
Thinking of hosting your own olive oil tasting party? It’s a unique way to entertain your guests! Plus it’s easy, fun and educational! In order to appreciate the various and diverse flavors in olive oils, you must go beyond reading about oil and experience the act of tasting it.
At Olio Tasting Room, sharing our knowledge about olive oils is our business! For throwing a tasting party in your own home, we have a few recommendations. First, select three olive oils, one being an inexpensive supermarket brand. The remaining two, we suggest trying one of our own single varietal olive oils such as Olio Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and perhaps an infused Olio Extra Virgin Olive Oil, such as Taste of Tuscany. Though tasting professionals used colored tasting glasses (so not to be influenced by the oil’s color), purchasing colored glasses is not necessary. Regular wine glasses will do and only about a tablespoon of olive oil is required for each tasting. Cleansing the palate in between tastes is advised with a small piece of bread or even a slice of a tart apple.
It’s fun to have tasting sheets for your guests to jot down notes about what they taste, but not required. A verbal comparison of the oils will do! Have your guests rate the olive oils, on a scale of 1 to 10, by these standards: fruitiness (the aroma); bitterness (taste on the tongue); and pungency (how it feels in the back of the throat). Guide your tasters to pay attention to a balance among the three standards. For instance, you don’t want an oil to have a strong aroma but then lacks in bitterness and pungency.
When tasting olive oil, much of the oil’s characteristics are perceived through the sense of smell. Most people enjoy olive oil with foods, but the following steps will allow you to focus on the olive oil’s flavor without the food flavor distraction:
• Pour a small amount of oil (about 1 tablespoon) into a small wine glass.
• With one hand, cover the glass while swirling the oil to release its aroma. Similar to wine tasting.
• Uncover the glass and inhale deeply from the top of the glass. Is the aroma mild or strong? Write down or share descriptions of the aromas that you detect.
• Next, enjoy being 5 years old again and slurp the oil; Sipping in the oil and “sipping” some air as well. (You will not be scolded for producing such rude sounds!) Slurping emulsifies the oil with air that helps to spread it throughout your mouth.
• End by swallowing the oil and noticing if it leaves a stinging sensation in your throat.
The exercise/actions described above focuses your attention on a specific attribute in the oil.
1. You evaluated the olive fruit aroma (fruitiness) by inhaling from the glass.
2. When the oil was in your mouth, you further evaluated the oil to determine amount of bitterness on your tongue.
3. Lastly, you determined the intensity of the oil’s pungency in our throats as we swallow it. What was the throat burn?
At Olio Tasting Room, we have trained staff members who can assist you in preparing a tasting party of your own. To make it even easier, schedule a tasting in the store itself (one week day evening) and let our specialists provide the knowledge and demonstration.
Olio olive oil specialists walk you through the procedures of tasting, as well as provide information on how olive oils and balsamics are made, where they are made and how to be an aware consumer. The tasting demo itself is incredibly interesting and you, and all your guests, will leave feeling you have experienced and learned something new. The party continues after wards when we set you lose to explore the numerous olive oils and balsamics throughout the store. Olio stocks over 45 varietals of olive oil and flavor infused oils and balsamics. There’s no shortage to taste!
As if it can’t get any better, Olio offers a 10% discount for each guests’ entire transaction! So what are you waiting for?