How is the tasting of an extra virgin olive oil?
In this article we are going to detail the steps of a professional oil tasting to determine its quality.
The tasting of virgin olive oil is compulsory before its labelling and determines whether it can be called extra virgin.
In addition, in order to be an extra virgin olive oil certified by the Protected Designation of Origin Estepa, it must also pass the requirements established by our organisation, which are more demanding than those of international standards.
There are several fundamental elements in this sensory analysis:
- The tasting room: provides tasters with a suitable, comfortable and standardised environment that facilitates concentration, neutrality and sensory analysis. It is isolated from foreign odours, soundproofed and with a stable temperature between 20 and 25 degrees. The lighting is also regulated. Finally, the room is divided into individual booths for each taster.
- The glass cup: it has specific measurements and has a dark colour that prevents the colour of the oil from being appreciated. It is covered with a lid called a watch glass.
- The taster: the tasting is carried out by between 8 and 12 expert tasters selected by a panel leader. They have undergone a selection process to form part of the tasting panel. The taster makes his or her assessment on the profile sheet, indicating the intensity perceived for each attribute.
The first step in tasting an extra virgin olive oil is to pour approximately 15 ml. into the glass. Then, cover the glass with a watch glass and rub the base of the glass for 2 minutes to allow the oil to reach a temperature of approximately 28º. In this way we achieve the enhancement of the volatile aromatic components of the oil.
Once the optimum temperature has been reached, with the glass in the palm of your hand, tilt it gently and rotate it so as to impregnate the walls of the glass, creating a larger surface area for air/oil contact.
The next step is to put the watch glass aside and immediately smell the extra virgin olive oil. This first sniff is important because it can give us a general impression of liking or disliking the oil, which we must then confirm.
We cover the glass again, and we tilt and turn it once more. Next, we carry out a second olfaction to try to discover the olfactory notes that appear in the extra virgin olive oil. On this occasion, we will be surprised by the amount of aromatic notes (fruity) that a good extra virgin olive oil has.
Next, uncover the glass and take a small sip of oil, about 3 ml. approximately. It is important to distribute the oil throughout the oral cavity, from the front of the mouth and tongue, along the sides and back, to the pillars of the palate.
In this way, our sense of taste detects the sweet, sour, salty and bitter stimuli of the oil. At this point we are ready to evaluate the three positive attributes of a good extra virgin olive oil:
- Fruity: both the aroma and flavour of extra virgin olive oil should be reminiscent of some kind of healthy, fresh fruit.
- Bitter and spicy: a good extra virgin olive oil should be bitter and spicy. This means that it retains its organoleptic qualities intact and that it contains polyphenols and natural antioxidants, indicating its quality and high stability.
In this way our sense of taste detects the sweet, acid, salty and bitter stimuli that the olive oil presents and we will be ready to assess the three positive attributes of a good extra virgin: FRUITY, BITTER and SPICY.