What do people say? What questions do they ask in an olive oil tasting experience?
The other day, a group of visitors were talking with me about the experience of running a tasting room for olive oil. They asked me what questions we get during our olive oil tasting events.
Last year we presented over 4,300 tastings at IL Fiorello. Granted tasting olive oil is a new experience for most people and we try to give accurate, but fun, information about olive oils, growing olives and food pairings. Sometimes the questions are spot on and sometimes they take my breath away. Most often we all end up laughing together, which is even more fun.
Here are some fun questions and facts about olives and olive oil that our tasting room staff is prepared to answer.
Q: Do you grow green or black olives?
A: All olives begin green and mature to black. This is the natural ripening process, just like most apples turn from green to red.
Q: How do you grow the olive with the red thing in the center?
A: Those olives are brined salt cured olives and the pimento is grown separately and placed inside the olive at the Factory.
Q: What does extra virgin mean?
A: That is a standard of quality which requires that only olive oil is in the bottle and nothing else. This means each oil has passed both a strict chemistry analysis and has passed a master taste panel taste test. This is a yearly certification and each production of oil is required to pass this test. In California, oil cannot be labeled Extra Virgin without passing this certification. Look for the seal of certification.
Q: What is this? A woman at the Farmers Market was holding a fresh lemon. She asked “is this an olive?”
A: No, That is a lemon……
Q: Can you eat an olive off the tree?
A: Only once. Fresh olives off the tree are impossibly bitter. Not a good taste…
Q: First Cold Pressed is only a PR term now.
A: Long ago and far away in an ancient land with donkeys and oxen, olives were ground up by stone wheels and pressed between mats. Today we use large mills and huge centrifuges to mill our oil.
Q: Can you cook with our extra virgin olive oils?
A: Of course, just use lower heat to preserve the flavor and health benefits of our oils. This is true for all oils. We make our oils with a big flavor, called finishing oils. Pour on the oil at your dining table.
Q: What is olive oil wine?
A: We have two flags in the front of the main driveway. One flag says olive oil and the other says wine. We make olive oil from our olives and we serve and sell bottles of wine made from grapes.
Q: Where is the bread?
A: We do not serve bread, ever. Bread masks the flavor of oils. Our motto is expand your palate to beyond bread and salad. Look for our recipes for crostini and bruschetta online. A beautiful presentation for our oils.
Q: At a tasting event in Southern California, a lady tasted our Award winning Leccino Organic Olive Oil and said: “This does not taste like Chardonnay!”
A: I could not utter a response.
Q: When do you add the pepper to the oil?
A: No pepper is ever added to our extra virgin oils, the sensation you are feeling is pungency. That is an important part of tasting early harvest robust olive oils.
At IL Fiorello we are all about enjoyment and education but you really can’t make some of these things up. We all have our moments.
Come and taste our oils and ask any question you want. We are sure to have some answers.
Enjoy the certified extra virgin olive oil