Guide to amateur taste

Oil evaluation, like wine, is made by expert tasters which use classified and defined techniques. Less expert people can also judge. Only a normal glass and an apple, to erase sensations between tastes, are necessary to taste. First hints belong to the sight: if the oil is clear, it means that it's been filtered correctly and or has been decanted naturally. If it's cloudy it means that they didn't make all the necessary pourings. If it's orange we can say, quite surely, that it's old. Try also to shake the oil in the bottle lighlty and you will already have some hints about cleanliness, roundedness, fluency and richness.

Olfaction follows: if it smells of olive and maybe vegetables, fruit or grass we can keep calm. We have to worry if we smell rancid, mold or sour.

Taste comes last: we put the oil into the mouth and lean the tongue on the palate. Inhaling several times we make the oil flow all over the mouth and heat. In this way the volatile substances spread until our taste organs. Apart from the four basic tastes, sweet, sour, salty and bitter we can also feel other important sensations in an oil like spicy and astringent. Also the nose has a role during the taste and it's right from the combination of these olfactive and gustatory that the taste comes to life. Rancid and sour tastes are signs of low quality oil. On the other hand if the oil has a fruity, grassy, sour or spicy we are on the right way. Combining all these sensations, even though we're not experts, can express pur opinion.

What's a panel test ?
An UE rule establishes for the first time quality and pureness features of every olive oil, establishes analysys methods for all UE countries and sets the limit values of the analytical parameters that characterize olive oil ans its commodity-related categories. For the first time has been used a sense method, the "Panel Test" to indicate which category a food product belongs to.

Panel, in english, means group, while test means judgement. Thus expert tasters (like wine sommeliers) meet up and taste oils to express an evaluation and a judgement. Professional taste is made with a blue glass in order not to be confused by the color. They pour a spoon of oil into the glass, heat it for about one minute in the "warmer", until it reaches body temperature. This allows to release and emphasize aromatic volatile parts. Then they smell the sample to try to feel the pleasant and unpleasant sensations. Afterwards, they put a small quantity of oil on the tongue and lean it on the palate. With gritted teeth they inhale air several times in order to make oil flow all over the mouth and heat. Volatile substances spread and reach our taste organs.

In this operation also the nose has an important role. Right from the combination of olfactive and gustatory sensations the taste comes to life. If smell and tastes are clearly noticeable, they've tasted a good extra virgin oil. If smells and tastes are also in balance between each other it's excellent. In order to be able to taste an other oil they clean their mouth chewing a slice of apple.