There are two valid reasons to consume extra virgin olive oil: to impart flavor to food, and to reap the health benefits associated with it. Healthy, tasty olive oil is not dependent on its appellation (country or region of origin). What is important is how and when it was picked (point of maturity), when it was crushed, its flavor characteristics, unique chemistry and its associated health benefits. Fresh crushed olive oil is like fresh squeezed fruit – over time such flavors and nutrients fade. Old, poorly made and improperly stored olive oil yields few, if any, health benefits and an undesirable flavor. Over time, it loses its potency, decreasing in flavor and beneficial health qualities. Through its direct sourcing, Olive Alchemy has confidence in its life cycle - from tree to tap.
Olive oil tasting should begin with the most delicate extra virgin olive oil and proceed to the most robust or intense extra virgin olive oil, similar to wine tasting. The complexity and subtle nuances of a delicate oil will be lost on the palate by jumping around on the intensity scale. Distinctive varietals provide a full range of flavors and intensities among oils, from the mild Arbequina to the moderate but full-flavored Hojiblanca, to the medium-intensity Picual – with many more in-between, followed by the robust Frantoio and Koreneiki varietals. Intensity is tied usually to phenolic quantity, and correlates to the natural peppery finish and bitterness of extra virgin olive oils. A spectrum of intensity speaks to the culinary application and flavor as well as the health benefits. Becoming familiar with a particular oil’s flavor characteristics, chemistry, and crush date, will help in choosing the right olive oil for you. Look to our RECIPES for more ideas on combinations and blending tips with our favorite balsamic and red wine vinegars.