` The Right Glass

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The Right Glass

Feb. 27, 2013
By 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.”

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 the max­i­mum steadi­ness, to pre­vent the glass from tilt­ing and the oil from being spilled.
See more: Buy Olive Oil Tast­ing Glasses
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.

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Ital­ian glass­mak­ing com­pany Fara pro­duces olive oil tast­ing glasses per­fectly match­ing the COI stan­dard. Though it never received an 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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