The Right Glass

Professional olive oil tasters need to follow precise rules, and the use of the right tools. The famous cobalt blue tasting glass is one of them.
Olive oil tasting glasses
Olive oil tasting glasses
Feb. 27, 2013
Luciana Squadrilli

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Olive oil tast­ing needs to fol­low pre­cise rules, and the use of the right tools. A famous cobalt blue glass is one of them.

According to the International Olive Oil Council, an offi­cial sen­sory analy­sis of olive oil requires a stan­dard glass that has to match some spe­cific and pecu­liar char­ac­ter­is­tics. The olive oil tast­ing glass stan­dard, set in 1987, pre­scribes the glass for use in the organolep­tic analy­sis of edi­ble oils.”

See Also: Buy olive oil tast­ing glasses

Every detail is spec­i­fied, from its dimen­sions to the mate­r­ial and design. It has to be made of resis­tant glass, and it should be dark-col­ored so that the color of its con­tents can­not be exam­ined, as this is not a rel­e­vant cri­te­ria for eval­u­a­tion. It should be free from scratches or bub­bles and the rim shall be even, smooth and flanged. It has to guar­an­tee max­i­mum steadi­ness, to pre­vent the glass from tilt­ing and the oil from being spilled.

The larger base must eas­ily fit the inden­ta­tions of a heat­ing unit — it is rec­om­mended that sam­ples should be exam­ined at 26 – 30ºC — and the glass has to be annealed so that it stands the tem­per­a­ture changes. It should also be per­fectly cra­dled in one’s hand so that the bot­tom of the glass is kept evenly heated, while the nar­row mouth guides the aro­mas and facil­i­tates their iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Finally, each glass should be equipped with a watch-glass larger than the mouth of the glass (10 mm diam­e­ter), to pre­vent the loss of aroma and the intru­sion of dust.

Italian glass­mak­ing com­pany Fara pro­duces olive oil tast­ing glasses per­fectly match­ing the COI stan­dard. Though it never received offi­cial cer­ti­fi­ca­tion by the International Olive Council, their tast­ing glasses have been used by offi­cial tast­ing pan­els or tast­ing courses since their pro­duc­tion started in 2006.

The Tuscan com­pany, estab­lished 30 years ago not too far from Florence, is spe­cial­ized in pro­duc­ing glass­ware and porce­lain for hotels and restau­rants. They also offer a range of exclu­sive mouth-blown items specif­i­cally designed and imple­mented for food ser­vice require­ments, includ­ing the oil tast­ing glasses.

During the last seven years,” says Francesco Caponi, Marketing Manager and son of one of the com­pa­ny’s founders, demand for olive oil tast­ing glass has grown con­sid­er­ably. Since when we first launched it, the pro­duc­tion shifted from 1,200 units in the first year (2007) to over 6,000 in 2011. For 2012 sales remained steady.”

The pro­duc­tion process still has some hand­craft­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics.

The molten glass cru­cible (at a tem­per­a­ture of 1,200 Celsius degrees) is put in a refrac­tory pan. The mas­ter glazier extracts an incan­des­cent glass ball using an appro­pri­ate metal stick. He then places it on a metal plate and starts to shape the glass. Once it has been sketched, but still in an uneven shape, the glass is inserted into a mold and the glazier blows in through the stick, to give all the glasses a sim­i­lar shape, although no blown glass item is ever iden­ti­cal to another.

The arti­san takes the shape out of the mold when it is still soft, and using tongs he cuts the glass still attached to the stick. Using a crack-off machine, he can cut the glass ball open, giv­ing it the shape of a small glass. The oil tast­ing glass is now fin­ished, but it sill needs to be annealed, that is to say to be put in a final fur­nace at a lower tem­per­a­ture, where the glass is allowed to slowly cool, to keep it from crack­ing from ther­mal stress.

Using the right glass is manda­tory for cer­ti­fied tast­ings and eval­u­a­tions, yet any­one who uses it once will eas­ily under­stand that it is the best way to detect olive oil defects and unde­sir­able fla­vors, as well as appre­ci­ate a good extra vir­gin olive oil’s aro­mas and fruiti­ness at its best, before adding it to any food.


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