Many Americans have conducted wine tastings, cheese tastings, even beer tastings at home. But, olive oil tastings? There are an amazing variety of flavors of olive oils available today, with an array of flavors that will surprise many.
Instead of holding a traditional Hanukkah party with latkes and dreidels this year, honor the miracle of oil with a couple bottles of olive oil. Invite your friends over, asking each to bring an oil-friendly appetizer to nibble on after tasting the oils, and enjoy. Nicholas Coleman, Chief Olive Oil Specialist at Eataly in New York, shares all the essentials with us.
Choosing The Oils
When hosting a proper tasting, don’t choose more than 5 or 6 olive oils, Coleman instructs, or “your palate will become overwhelmed.” Choose one oil from each of the flavor profiles above, and make sure that the oils are tasted from light in flavor to more robust, slowly building the intensity of flavor as you progress. If you’re in New York, visit Nick at Eataly. The store has “arguably the best single estate “boutique” collection of olive oils in the city,” and he’d be more than happy to help.
The “Proper” Way to Taste Oil
The one thing to remember when tasting olive oil, which might be surprising to some, is to not use bread! Instead, Coleman instructs me to pour each oil into small plastic cups, one cup per olive oil per person. Swirl the cup in your hand for about a minute, one hand warming the bottom and the other cupping the top, so the oil warms and the aromas are trapped. The ideal temperature for tasting olive oil is 82 degrees.
Once you have properly warmed the oil, take two deep inhalations, taking in the oil’s aroma. Then take a slow sip, allowing air to aerate the oil, maximizing the flavors and aromas detectable. “Let the flavors dance on your tongue, “ Coleman instructs. “Sometimes it takes up to a minute or two to fully ‘taste’ the oil.” Then, between each variety of oil, clean the palate with sparkling water, or apple slices.