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The “other” Napa tasting

I’m talking about olive oil when I say the “other” Napa tasting. Well, to be honest it is not just Napa, but it is another popular product from Napa and other parts of California. Olive trees are quite common in California and some of the best olive oils are produced there. Much like wine, olive oil is tasted and rated. The varieties of olive oil available today is huge. Some restaurants even have olive oil menus similar to wine lists. Like wine, olive oil is rated on it’s appearance, aroma, mouthfeel and flavor. Most times a bland or “country” style bread is used for tasting purposes when sampling olive oil. Appearance is the color and clarity. Most olive oils are somewhat cloudy. The color can denote the zone of it’s origin or ripeness of the olives, how long the skins were in contact with the olive. Again refering to how long the skins were in contact with the oil reminds us of the wine making process when it is noted how long the grapes skins were fermented with the juice. Next is Aroma, which olive oils tend to give off scents of artichoke, tomato leaf, green apple, pine nut, basil, sage and even cinnamon or dried chili powder. If the oil smells musty or metallic at all, it is not recommended for consumption, it has become oxidized. Mouthfeel and flavor is a little more complicated and probably only done by true tasters as most folks do not simply take a swig of olive oil. While we may love olive oil, we typically cook with it, blend it for salads, dip it in bread, etc. True olive oil tasters actually take a small sip through a clenched jaw and suck it quickly to the back of the throat. They do not sip oil and allow it to linger as one would with wine tasting. Denser oils are usually from hotter climates, while fluid ones are from the more Northern regions. The olive oil spectrum is huge, there is extra virgin, flavored, mixed with herbs, you name it, you can purchase it.

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