Think all olive oil is the same? Wondering how to tell the good from the bad from the ugly? Subscription service Pomora has tips for tasting that will make you an oily expert.

Pomora is a subscription service that ensures you’ll always have access to some of the finest Italian olive oil you’ll ever taste.

Adopt an olive tree with Pomora and you’ll receive quarterly deliveries of three 250ml tins of premium extra virgin olive oil from your tree, while knowing you’re also supporting hard-working olive growers.

Adopting an olive tree through Pomoraalso makes the perfect original gift for food lovers.

How to taste olive oil

  • What are you looking for? There are three dimensions to tasting olive oil – fruitiness, bitterness and pungency. Use different areas of your tongue to experience each component: the front for fruitiness, the back and side for bitterness and your throat for pungency. 
  • Pungency is a good marker of quality; you’re unlikely to get much pungency from supermarket oils.
  • Put a tablespoon of olive oil in a tasting cup. Professional tasters use blue cups to obscure the colour of the oil, in order to avoid influencing their opinions before they taste the oil. 
  • Remember that colour is in no way indicative of taste.
  • Warm the oil before tasting by covering the cup with one hand and cupping it with the other. This helps release important flavour compounds.
  • Lift your hand to smell the oil before tasting – your nose is more sensitive to fruitiness than your tongue.
  • Use a slurping technique – this gets air into the mouth which when mixed with the oil will emulsify. Ensure you cover your entire tongue with oil to excite all the different taste receptors. 
  • Flavour notes to look out for include grassiness, citrus, ripe fruits, artichoke, tomato, tomato leaf, pine, mint, green banana, peach, apricot, pear, melon, tropical fruits, floral, rocket, butter, nut, avocado.
  • Olive oil contains some of the same chemical compounds as are found in chilli’s so you should feel some heat.
  • Before you swallow, close your mouth and breathe out through your nose. Your mouth will have warmed the oil and you’ll get a second taste experience.
  • If you are tasting more than one oil, clean your palate between tastings with a green apple – Granny Smiths are the gold standard!  

Tips from Pomora

  •       When it comes to storing olive oil, there are two points to consider – light and air. Olive oil might look lovely in a glass bottle, but don’t be fooled. Olive oil degrades when it comes into contact with light so if it comes in a glass bottle, it’s been degrading all the time it’s been on the shelf. Green glass is better as it filters some of the light, but not all so the best thing to do is buy olive oil in tins, which will ensure no light gets in.
  •      As soon as you open your olive oil and expose it to air, it starts to oxidise. That’s why it’s better to buy small tins that will last no more than a month or two, rather than a big tin. 
  • The smoke point of olive oil is around 220-230°C. Heating olive oil above that will destroy the polyphenols, important to the health benefits of olive oil as well contributing to the acidity and taste of the oil. There are more polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil so there’s more goodness to lose.
  • To be classified as extra virgin olive oil it needs to be pressed at below 27 degrees – if the outside temperature is higher then growers can’t harvest. The riper the olives the fewer polyphenols they include so important to harvest at the right time.
  • When it comes to olive oil, colour is not predictive of taste. An oil that looks light and clear, could actually be much more robust than a deep, cloudy oil.