Guide To Olive Oil Tasting
Looking for some engaging, foodie fun? Yearning to discover the oil that sings to you? We recommend putting on a Trader Joe’s Olive Oil tasting. In fact, it’s exactly what we did to come up with the critical product details for our Guide To Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It’s delicious, educational fun that provokes taste-ful conversation. And we make the planning and assembly very low-stress with our play-by-play of How To Host an Olive Oil Tasting:
Get The Supplies
- TJ’s Olive Oils
- Paper bags
- Permanent Marker
- Wine glasses
- Small bowls
- Tasting Sheets
- Spit cups
- TJ's All Occasion Napkins
- TJ's Granny Smith Apples, sliced
- TJ's Sparkling Mineral Water, chilled
- TJ's Baguette, warmed & sliced
Begin by selecting three to five Trader Joe's olive oils. We recommend a maximum of five, because oils can exhaust the palate (trust us, we started out to taste all of our olive oils at once – not our best idea)! You'll want to choose a variety of oils in order to keep things interesting. We've made it easy by categorizing every Extra Virgin Olive Oil that Trader Joe's has to offer in our Guide To Extra Virgin Olive Oil. For example, an excellent group of olive oils to explore could include...
Imported Olive Oil: $5.99 (1L)
Premium 100% Greek Kalamata Extra Virgin Olive Oil: $8.99 (1L)
Sicilian Selezione Extra Virgin Olive Oil: $7.99 (500ML)
Spanish Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil: $5.99 (500ML)
Novello Italian Reserve Extra Virgin Olive Oil: $14.99 (1000ML)
If you don't want your tasters to be swayed by the olive oil label, country of origin or color, we recommend doing a blind tasting. That's right, blind! To do this, number small paper bags with your permanent marker, then place each bottle inside a bag—sneaky, right? Pour some of each oil into a wine glass as well as a small bowl. Keep the bagged bottle close to the corresponding glass and bowl, and line them all up according to “strength.” Start with oils that will lean towards the Mellow & Mildly Buttery (we recommend our Imported Olive Oil – it’s very mild and other oils will compare distinctly to it) and end with oils that lean more toward the Pungent & Piquant (see our Guide to discover a full range of Extra Virgin Olive Oils).
You'll need pens, tasting sheets and spit cups for each person. Have one spoon per person per olive oil, so if you have three olive oils and five friends? 15 spoons.
Prep Your Tasters
Give each taster a Tasting Sheet for each oil. (Feel free to use the one we’ve created or fashion one that suits you.) Then, walk your tasters through the process outlined below. If you’d like, prime palates by discussing some terms that can be used to describe the distinctive tastes you might experience with oils. These include:
Fruity: aroma of fresh olive fruit
Bitter: characteristic of oil from green (unripe) olives; perceived at the back of the tongue.
Pungent: peppery sensation perceived at back of the throat (sign of the oil’s freshness)
Grass: aroma of fresh-cut (mowed) grass
Green: aroma/flavor of unripe olives
Buttery: creamy, smooth sensation on palate
Herbaceous: unripe olive fruit reminiscent of fresh green herbs
Astringent: puckering sensation created by tannins; often associated with bitter, robust oils
Talk, Taste and Enjoy!
Assess Aroma: To begin, cover the wine glass of the first oil and allow it to warm in your hand. Swirl to release the oil's aroma molecules. Keep the oil covered with your hand until you're ready to smell. Give it a good SNIFF and record your findings on the Tasting Sheet.
Assess Flavor: Next, take a spoon and dip it into the bowl. SLURP it, then SWALLOW it and record your findings on the Tasting Sheets. (Note: keep spit cups at the ready for those that don’t want to swallow the oil.) Should your tasters not desire or tire of straight oil, encourage them to use the crusty bread instead.
Between Oils: Since oils are, well… oily they can weigh heavy on the palate. To keep your tasters fresh, serve a slice of Granny Smith Apple between each oil. Also have some sparkling water on hand for a cleansing rinse.
After you’ve tasted through all the oils, take some time to share with one another what you think! Then eat, drink and be merry!