Have you ever had people over to do some wine tasting? You can cover the bottles to get people's impressions or simply offer a variety to see which ones are the favorite among the group. Olive Oil, like wine has many varieties, comes from many countries, some are blends, some are monocultivars, some robust, others mild and buttery. Sharing it with friends makes great conversations and ultimately can help to create a wonderful dinner.
Why not host an olive oil tasting for your next gathering.
Extra Virgin Olive Oils have such a diverse range of flavors, from mild to robust, that they’re the perfect assortment to compare at a tasting party.
Here’s how to host an olive oil tasting party:
Each place setting gets 4 small glasses (plastic shot glasses work well here!) they should be filled with 1-2 tablespoons of each olive oil you’re tasting, along with a glass of water and a few slices of green apple. Have paper and a pen at each place setting for note taking, too. I recommend you have a mild/buttery oil with very little bitterness or pungency, then a nice complex medium with some level of bitterness and some level of pungency and a BIG BOY! a great robust oil with loads of character, some good pleasant levels of bitterness and some good levels of pungency. We say "if it makes you cough it's good oil!" and it really is a good thing! When an oil is bitter and has that pungency in the back of your throat that makes you cough, it has high levels of Polyphenols which are healthy natural anti-oxidants that are found in great oils! AND the last oil should be your average $4.99 bottle of olive oil from the grocery store which will typically taste like nothing after the first 3. This last oil is really a check to help people realize they can taste a difference in good Extra Virgin Olive Oils!
Order the oil-filled glasses from mild, medium, then the full-flavored robust oil and lastly the grocery store cheap one. If you want, you can label each glass “1, 2, 3, 4…” with a note in front of each sample.
In the center of the table, keep the four olive oil bottles marked by number so guests can read the information on the labels as they taste. Also have a platter of sliced baguette and green apple for your guests to eat in between tastings to clear their palates.
Swirl, Sniff, Slurp and Swallow:
SWIRL: Hold the glass in one hand, cover with the other and swirl for 10-15 seconds. The warmth of your hands along with the swirling action will release the aromas.
SNIFF: Uncover the glass and breathe in deeply. Encourage guests to write down three words to describe the aroma.
SLURP: Let at least 1 tsp of oil cover your mouth and SWALLOW while smiling and showing your teeth and sucking air at the sides of your smile. Do this 2-3 times. Write down your impressions. Is the flavor spicy, fruity or bitter? How does it feel in your mouth? Heavy, oily or smooth? Does it make you cough? (it's good when it makes you cough!)
Have guests sip water, eat a slice of apple or bread and repeat with the next olive oil.
You can have everyone compare notes after tasting each olive oil or when you’ve completed the entire tasting. In addition, you can dip the bread in the oils and note the differences in flavor. Discuss what you would like to sauté, bake or drizzle with the various oils.