Hosting an Olive Oil Tasting Party
Late fall marks the season when olives are harvested and turned into oil. In celebration of our favourite fruit, we decided to get creative and host an olive oil tasting party. Hosting an olive oil tasting party is a great way to expand your knowledge, and your palate, not to mention a good excuse for a get-together in the fall. Not only is it a simple gathering to organise, but also the tasting can be scaled up or down depending on how many people you would like to invite.
- Request that each guest bring a bottle of olive oil to the party. That way, your tasting table is guaranteed to have a mix of contrasting oils. Try tasting oils from different countries or ones with different flavour profiles.
- If you prefer to select the bottles yourself but are looking for guidance on which ones to serve, you can always head over to your nearest specialty olive oil or food store for a chat.
- On your table, serve some freshly sliced baguette for dipping in olive oil or for eating in between sips. Or have guests make their own Tuscan fettunta (oily slice) by rubbing a clove of fresh garlic and sprinkling some salt on a toasted sliced baguette before drizzling it with olive oil.
- Raw vegetables are also great to pair with olive oil to bring out its flavours.
- Olive oil tasting cups (disposable/ clear). If you are a purist at heart, disposable cups work best for a tasting. That way, every time you pour a sample, you are not cross-contaminating flavours from the previous oil. If you do not have access to disposable cups, small shot glasses, wine glasses or espresso cups would work well. Just make sure to give your cups a wipe before pouring the next sample. Transparent vessels work best so guests can admire the colour of the olive oil before sipping, however paper or porcelain are fine too.
- Paper and pencils, so guests can take tasting notes while they sip.
- Bright napkins, plates and flowers to dress up your tasting bar presentation.
- Fruit (dried or fresh)
- Olive oil cake
- Dips (we love olive tapenade and caponata)
- A charcuterie platter
- Sparkling water, wine, Prosecco
- Olive oil dispenser bottle (for easy pouring)
WHY THIS WORKS:
You do not need a large living space to host an olive oil tasting party. You could easily set up the tasting on a kitchen counter, buffet or coffee table and allow guests to move around while they sip. If you prefer a more formal tasting arrangement, transform your dining room or kitchen table into a tasting bar and seat your guests while they taste.
NOTES ON TASTING OLIVE OIL:
Olive oil is about experiencing the aroma, the appearance and the taste. I like to remember this by following “see, swirl and sip.” Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into your tasting glass and look at the colour. Cover the class with one hand and give the olive oil a swirl. Remove your hand and smell the aromas released from the glass. Take a sip (or slurp), making sure to let the olive oil roll around in your mouth and cover your taste buds before swallowing. Experience the sensation and flavour the olive oil leaves in your mouth and throat. Talk about the sensations you experience after tasting (what you like, what you don’t like). Talking is the best way to expand and evolve your olive oil knowledge.
Olive Oil Colours: Light yellow (made from late harvested, black ripe olives which results in a sweeter oil) to dark green (made from green, barely ripe olives which results in bitter, pungent oil).
Olive Oil Tastes: Fruity, spicy, grassy, musky, pungent (peppery/indication of the oil’s freshness), buttery, astringent (puckering from tannins), bitter (from unripe, green olives).
Check out our behind the scenes video of our party set-up.
Resources: The Olive Oil Shop
Time and time again, we find ourselves returning to smaller specialty food retailers that can deliver more personal and educational experience.
Among our favourite boutique retailers are those that specialise in olive oil. Shopping for olive oil in a supermarket can be a challenge, with almost nothing but price and shelf position as an indicator to help you differentiate the vast array of neatly lined bottles. In the end, we often just go with the brands we know or the price that meets our budget.
Contrast this with the experience of shopping for olive oil in a specialty store. Greeted with information, knowledge, and tastings, it quickly becomes apparent why more of these shops are finding their way into the retail landscape of cities around the world. Similar to other specialty food and beverage retailers, visiting an olive oil store is an exciting sensory experience, where you can smell, see, touch, and taste the selection before you buy. The staff is always knowledgeable and able to answer your questions with passion and enthusiasm.
If you have only consumed “mainstream” olive oil, your taste buds may not be accustomed to these flavour profiles and characteristics that can be as complex as those found in fine wines. For foodies, this can be a mind-blowing realisation in and of itself, and an open door to whole new worlds of taste.
Specialty Olive Oil Shops To Know About:
- Ta-Ze Premium Olive Oil Shop: Istanbul, Singapore, Chicago, Toronto
- Oli Sal: Barcelona
- Uje: Croatia (multiple locations)
- Olive and Olives: Montreal, Toronto
- Premier Provence Pression: Paris, Hong Kong, Strasbourg, Provence
- A l’Olivier: Paris, Nice, Lyons, Cannes, Stockholm, London
- Liveo: Tel Aviv, Jerusalem
- Stonehouse Olive Oil: San Francisco, California
SPOTLIGHT: Olive and Olives: Montreal, Toronto
- Number of Olive Oils Carried: Between 50 and sixty depending on the seasons.
- Countries of origin: They started working mainly with Spain but now work with producers from Italy, Greece, Tunisia, France, New Zealand, Australia, and Morocco. 95% of these oils are exclusive to Olive & Olives and they do not sell bulk olive oils, only extra virgin.
- Area of Specialisation: Spain – Catalunya and Andalusia, Italy-Umbria
- Number of Stores: Montreal (5) Toronto (1)
- First Opened: 2003 in Montreal
- Online Option: We sell online across Canada and all orders of $50 and more have free delivery.