Oil testing is a way to define the character of a unique agricultural product such as extra virgin olive oil, just as it is done with wine. Its purpose is to identify the sensory properties of the oil harmonising together and staying pleasantly in our taste memory.
An extra virgin olive oil is firstly characterised by its taste and smell of healthy fruit, and secondly by its unique aromatic and taste profile.
Professional testing is subject to very strict conditions. However, amateur testing is something we can practice at home if we want to learn about oil and which will help us develop knowledge of our own palate.
In this sort of tasting we will analise the visual, smell and taste facets. With our sight we will appreciate the colour of the juice. In technical testing this part is not taken into account and this is why blue-tinted glasses are used. A greenish oil will usually gather more herbaceous and bitter notes than a golden oil. In our nose, inhaling slowly we will perceive not only the intensity of its fruitiness, but also all the different attributes of the juice. The first thing we should check is if it contains the natural smell of healthy fruit.
In our mouth, we can delve in its taste while we inhale to take the oil to every part of the tongue and roof of the mouth. We will pay attention to questions such as oil density, taste balance –between bitter, sweet, astringent, spicy and acid- and to different hints of flavour of food known to our palate such as tomato, pepper, artichoke, banana, etc. The wider our sensory record, the richer the testing exercise will be, as it is not possible to perceive taste that you don’t know beforehand.
The testing has an essential educational value: to reeducate our palate with natural food from the land –versus industrialised food- with the well-known beneficial effects of its consumption for our health, the planet and for the wellbeing of the people who produce it.