A few weeks ago, I spent 2 days taking an Olive Oil Sensory Course at the UC Davis Olive Center followed by 2 days attending the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. From learning (almost) everything about fresh extra virgin olive oil, to sampling gourmet foods from around the globe, it was an eye opening experience for me as well as my taste palate. I cannot wait to share what I have learned and bring new and exciting products to Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley!
The olive oil sensual experience is using your senses to judge the oil. Starting with scent, the oil must be covered and warmed up in the palm of your hand to release the molecules and allow you to SMELL the oil in an enclosed "head space" with no distractions (such as color). Hence, the color, size, and shape of the tasting jars. First, you will only describe the smell. Is it fruity? If it is fruity, is it green fruit (tomato leaf, green banana, green almond) or ripe fruit (ripe banana, ripe peach)? Is it grassy? Is it herbaceous?
Then, you will TASTE and FEEL the oil in your mouth. You may need to wait a few seconds before describing these attributes. Do you taste the same flavors that you smelled? Maybe it smelled fruity but it tastes more grassy. Maybe at first you tasted almonds, but now you taste herbs. Do you feel it still on the sides of your mouth after a few seconds? Is it greasy? Maybe it leaves a bitter feeling that you like, or don't like. Some oils make you cough 1, 2, or even 3 times (pungency). Does your throat burn right away, after a few seconds, or not at all? And how long does it last?
These are the types of questions an olive oil judge asks themselves about every single oil they must analyze (sometimes 20 in a day) before scoring it.
Organoleptic Taste Panel Assessment
Fruitiness 5.4 Bitterness 4.0 Pungency 4.5