How to recognize a high quality EVO oil

Tasting the oil is an enveloping and unique experience. Here is a short guide to recognizing a high quality extra virgin olive oil.
To be defined as EVO, an oil must necessarily satisfy well-defined production, chemical-physical and organoleptic requirements. Knowing how to recognize these qualities is the first step towards conscious tasting.
Positive attributes are the positive qualities to recognize in an EVO oil. In contrast, negative attributes must not be present. The positive attributes are:

  • Fruity: it is the complex interaction of different olfactory sensations, depending on the variety of the fruit, the degree of ripeness and the extraction conditions.

  • Bitter and spicy: depend on the presence of phenolic compounds, precious antioxidant and health components.

  • The aroma: corresponds to that rich load of aromatic compounds that makes an oil unique and complex.

The tasting of the oil

The ideal hours for tasting extra virgin olive oil are early in the morning. It is a good rule to operate away from meals, in suitable and sterile scented environments. In order not to compromise the tasting, it is best to make sure that your physiological and sensorial conditions are optimal.

The professional tasting procedure is divided into seven phases to be followed scrupulously: here is a brief summary.

1. Prepare the sample
Pour a spoonful of oil into the chosen glass. Using a dark colored glass will allow you not to have any judgmental prejudices regarding the visual appearance. The color of the oil is not considered a parameter capable of denoting, on its own, the quality of an oil.
2. Heat the bottom of the glass
With one hand heat the bottom of the glass, with the other close the top end. The ideal temperature to reach is around 28°C. This operation will favor the volatilization process of the aromatic compounds, enhancing all the organoleptic characteristics of the oil.
3. Smell deeply
2-3 times, for a maximum of 30 seconds. These short and repeated inhalations will facilitate the perception of the fruitiness and aromas present in the oil. In order not to saturate the olfactory receptors, it is best not to overdo it at this stage.
4. Enjoy delicately
A small sip. The oil must come into contact with every area of ​​the tongue as each area of ​​it will receive different stimuli. Sprinkle the entire palate well and concentrate on finding the typical balance between bitter and spicy.
5. The stripping technique
Complete the tasting by favoring the perception of the aftertaste retronasally. Pour a sip of oil into your mouth and inhale air, first gently then vigorously, atomising the oil particles into the postnasal cavity. In this phase the taste receptors and the smell receptors will be involved simultaneously providing more precise sensations.
6. Memorize the sensations
Pay attention to the way and order in which sensory stimuli occur. Once the analysis is complete, it is time to note down every sensation found during the tasting

7. Tasting completed!

Once the evaluation of the oil is concluded, it is time to taste other samples. It is recommended, between one tasting and another, to rinse your mouth with water or eat a slice of green apple.