Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Sep 27, 2011 09:54 PM

How to Taste Olive Oil

"""Pour a little olive oil in a small glass; warm the glass by rotating it with the palms of your hand for a few seconds. Smell it deeply. If it smells fresh (aromatic, fruity, mildly bitter, pungent), the oil is excellent. If it smells like the fruit is dry (strongly bitter, earthy, rancid, flat), the oil is not good; if it smells like a roasted almond, it means the oil is already rancid. Taste the olive oil too, take a little sip and take the time to savor it or (throw it away!)."""

So it seems most of one's tasting is actually smelling. I guess that shouldn't surprise me.

Do you slurp the oil around to aerate it when you taste it, like a wine?

I was also chagrined -- but again maybe not surprised -- to learn how many oils are adulterated (and not just olive oil). "" Some producers …. mix the olive oil with other, cheaper oils; ... use fermented olives that would never sell to make an substandard olive oil and still call it “extra-virgin” [or] add artificial flavors and scents…."

The author notes that infusing it with thyme is a way producers mask substandard oil.

Do you have a consistently fresh olive oil that you love?
Do you find higher price usually is associated with higher quality? Have you found any relatively inexpensive oil that "tastes above its pay grade"?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I've done olive oil tastings before... if you're using thick glass hold it in your hand for a while! Make sure it gets up to body temperature.

    When actually tasting... slurp it, rather obnoxiously! Like cupping, you want to suck in quickly to spray the oil around your mouth, if that makes sense. It's interesting. The first time you do this with a really peppery oil beware! :)

    I haven't done too much value tasting, unfortunately. Although, similar to wine, I find that spanish olive oils do have more value for quality than say italian or french (this is VERY general, from what is available!).

    1. Alka, I wish you could meet some people I know who import oils from Italy. Yes, oils *do* get mixed and adulterated. They said you have to look for 1. small bottle. 2. the glass needs to be dark 3. needs to say where the olives were GROWN, not BOTTLED, and hopefully with the name & location of the farm that grew them.

      Bottled doesn't mean doodie. Bottled in Italy can mean, hey we took some cheap Greek and Spanish oils and bottled them in Italy, and sold them to you (sucker).

      1 Reply
      1. re: pdxgastro

        For the record, Imported from Italy and Packed in Italy can legally mean the oil inside is a blend from different countries. Recent EU and US law require bottlers to state countries of origin, and this is being done. To ensure the real Italian thing, Look for growers, for sell by and/or harvest dates, for location of grower, and, even better, a DOP/IGP seal of regional authenticity. Italy produces much less oil than it consumes and sells, and has imported (legally) oils from Spain, Greece, and other countries for its national brands for years.