` Workshop to Improve Olive Oil Tasting Skills

Tasting Olive Oil

Workshop to Improve Olive Oil Tasting Skills

Jul. 7, 2015
By Sukhsatej Batra

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Two of world’s most expe­ri­enced olive oil tasters, Paul Vossen and Richard Gawel, have orga­nized a unique one-day work­shop designed to take olive oil tasters to the next level.

Atten­dees can look for­ward to an infor­ma­tion-packed day that will teach them to iden­tify fla­vors, aro­mas and qual­ity olive oil through dis­cus­sions, exer­cises and prac­ti­cal tast­ing ses­sions.

The work­shop, to be held on July 27, 2015 in Forestville, Cal­i­for­nia, is intended for tasters who are famil­iar with the pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics of olive oil such as fruiti­ness, bit­ter­ness, pun­gency and ran­cid­ity. Trainees of this work­shop will build on their basic knowl­edge and learn how to improve their olive oil tast­ing skills through repet­i­tive expo­sure to dif­fer­ent olive oils.

Paul Vossen, a pio­neer who offered the first olive oil train­ing course in Cal­i­for­nia in 1996 and began train­ing the Cal­i­for­nia Taste Panel in 1997, said, The only real instruc­tional mate­r­ial is olive oil. In order to be a knowl­edge­able taster it requires a lot of rep­e­ti­tion.”

Dur­ing the day, atten­dees get an oppor­tu­nity to expe­ri­ence the char­ac­ter­is­tics of excel­lent oils by tast­ing award-win­ning olive oils from around the world. While this expe­ri­ence will expose tasters to the best side of olive oil, the work­shop also will teach atten­dees to pin­point defects.

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See the pro­gram and reg­is­ter for the work­shop here

Many times tasters can rec­og­nize that there is some­thing wrong but don’t know what it is exactly,” said Vossen, who twice served on the pres­ti­gious judg­ing panel of the New York Inter­na­tional Olive Oil Com­pe­ti­tion. The course will train tasters not only how to iden­tify defects in olive oils but also recall the source of defects, a skill that adds to the cred­i­bil­ity of the taster.

Another aspect of this work­shop empha­sizes train­ing atten­dees to rec­og­nize char­ac­ter­is­tics in olive oil that com­pli­ment or con­trast with dif­fer­ent foods. This will be taught through tast­ing and olfac­tory exer­cises that will force the trainees to asso­ciate spe­cific char­ac­ter­is­tics and inten­si­ties on a numeric scale. The ulti­mate aim is to train tasters to form strong brain-palate con­nec­tions that will help them recall spe­cific food aro­mas and fla­vors in asso­ci­a­tion with olive oil.

Richard Gawel, who trained the first and sec­ond Aus­tralian IOC-rec­og­nized tast­ing pan­els and is a trained sta­tis­ti­cian, has built a sta­tis­ti­cal dis­tri­b­u­tion of taster con­sis­tency. While the tast­ing exer­cises allow objec­tive mea­sure­ment of a tasters’ con­sis­tency, the sta­tis­ti­cal dis­tri­b­u­tion helps bench­mark each taster’s con­sis­tency against oth­ers.

The course intends to pro­vide knowl­edge of olive oil tast­ing with­out bias for any brand or source of olive oil for pro­duc­ers, importers, pro­fes­sional olive oil tasters and peo­ple who are just pas­sion­ate about olive oil.

Accord­ing to Vossen, Over the last 19 years, these train­ing courses have helped pro­duc­ers make bet­ter olive oils. In order to make a good prod­uct, or a bet­ter prod­uct, the pro­ducer needs to know what that tastes like. They learn about the influ­ence of vari­ety, fruit matu­rity, and fruit han­dling on fla­vor. Then they make changes in how they man­age their orchards accord­ingly.

Being a good olive oiltaster has helped numer­ous proces­sors to elim­i­nate or reduce short­com­ings in their sys­tems that might lower the qual­ity of their oils,” said Vossen. Proces­sors have learned how the details of paste fine­ness in the crusher, malax­a­tion time and tem­per­a­ture, or the addi­tion of water into the sys­tem have an effect on oil fla­vor. Buy­ers and sell­ers of olive oil have used these courses in the past to iden­tify olive oil grades by fla­vor, which has helped deter­mine the real value of oils.”



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