Depending on its place of origin and the variety of olives used, olive oil has a wide range of flavors and fragrances and the consumer should choose and buy the type that best suits his/her particular taste and the food to prepare. Extra virgin olive oil is like fine wine. Its taste and aroma can be easily distinguished by the nose and the palate, then discussed and dissected. A series of requirements are declared on national and international regulations to identify Trade Standards for olive oils. The quality is measured in two steps: acidity evaluation and taste test.
According to the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC), these are the categories:
1) VIRGIN OLIVE OIL is the oil obtained from the extra virgin olive oil fruit of the olive tree solely by mechanical or other physical means under conditions, particularly thermal conditions, which do not lead to the alteration of the oil. It has not undergone any treatment other than washing, decanting, centrifuging and filtering. When virgin olive oil is intended for consumption in its natural state, it is called by one of the following designations:
a – Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a maximum acidity of 1% and organoleptic characteristics stipulated in the standards for this category;
b – Virgin Olive Oil has a maximum acidity of 2% and organoleptic characteristics stipulated in the standards for this category;
c – Ordinary Virgin Olive Oil has a maximum acidity of 3% and organoleptic characteristics stipulated in the standards for this category;
d – Lampante Virgin Olive Oil has more than 3.3% of acidity and organoleptic characteristics stipulated in the standards for this category. It is not fit for consumption in its original state and should be refined prior to its use as a food stuff.
2) REFINED OLIVE OIL is obtained from virgin olive oils, generally Lampante, by refining methods that do not alter the initial glyceride structure of the oil.
3) OLIVE OIL is a specific foodstuff term for a blend of refined olive oil and virgin olive oil fit for consumption as is.
When you buy olive oil, consider how you’ll use it, how it will enhance your cooking style. For dipping and drizzling or if you have a fantastic salad, pasta, red meat or some grilled vegetables probably you’ll need a full bodied and big flavored oil and you could choose to have a hint of olive with a background flavor of tomato (typical with oils produced in Sicily) or artichoke (Tuscany and central regions of Italy).
Try the oil on different food and determine if it enhances your food or if it is too overpowering on a delicate fish for example. Another oil might be better if drizzled on your pasta or fantastic with some hot bread…choose the right oil as you would choose the right fine wine! An official extra virgin olive oil tasting is performed after the chemical test to determine if the oil meets the standards. The tasters must follow rules of conduct that have been established by the IOOC. Our experience with not food professionals taught us that anyone can learn to taste well. You can replicate at home the same procedure professional olive oil tasters follow to judge olive oil.
To start your tasting experience, you’ll just need a small plastic cup, a bottle of olive oil and a glass of water. You’ll have a better result if you don’t drink coffee or smoke at least 30 minutes before the time set for your test and if you don’t use any perfume, cosmetic or soap whose could linger during the test. Usually we suggest to taste at least three or four different oils made with different species of olives to discover different flavors and intensities. You’ll find many different species of olives used in the oils we offer in our Selection. Pour just a small quantity of olive oil in the cup (enough to cover the bottom), hold the cup top and bottom between your hands to warm it slightly and swirl it for at least one minute.