Those who leap into the tasting of olive oil without some basic preparation may mix up the touches of spiciness or bitterness with the sensation of acidity. They are not to be confused. The bitter taste and spicy taste are always needed and provide hints that help understand the quality of the product. They are typical flavours of a green olive in optimal conditions of health, and tastes that we must appreciate and search for in an excellent extra virgin olive oil.

Instead, recognising a poor quality oil is quite easy. It is characterised by unpleasant odours and well-defined defects that professional tasters have identified and named. For example, the “wine-like” scent that is similar to vinegar is an indication of the degradation of the olive prior to its transformation into oil. Another typical sign of poor quality products is the so-called “heat”. This is the consequence of organic material that has been left in the bags or collected in the heaps of olives that causes them to undergo an abnormal fermentation that is not positive.[…] We can hone our tools by attending courses for professional tasters, oil sommelier classes, or by taking part in evenings in which food and oils are combined to evoke the best of each product. Expertise in olive oil is obtained by developing our senses and achieving organoleptic knowledge. Olive oil is not evaluated with the eyes. Colour is not a factor that allows us to analyse the quality the way we can using our other sense organs. Oil is assessed using the nose and mouth and to get the most out of our sense of taste and smell it is always best to taste it using a glass and not on bread. This is actually a form or pairing, in which the quality of the bread often affects the judgement of the olive oil either positively or negatively.[…] Extra virgin olive oil is able to charm both young and old. The first taste of an excellent olive oil is enough to stop anyone from returning to the tastes of the past. It is a one way trip towards quality and awarenesss […].

Nicola di Noia, taken from “Il Raccolto dei Racconti”