At a recent dinner with friends, one of them asked what I thought about a wine she brought. She assumed that because I’m an olive oil taster I’d give an authoritative opinion about it. Once I thanked her for her trust, I explained that not only am I not an expert in wine by any means; olive oil tasting and wine tasting are altogether different things.
This was not the first time I’ve been in this situation as I witnessed also the opposite: good wine tasters or winemakers assuming they can offer a solid opinion about olive oil because they’re good at wine tasting.
The core of olive oil tasting is assessing quality. That’s the most important part. The taster is trained in detecting defects and to appreciate positive attributes (fruit perfumes, bitterness and pungency). That’s the basis for evaluating EVOO.
While it is true that in sensory analysis of other products the detection of defects is an important part of it, once it’s done, the rest of the tasting is of a different nature. This is because good wines, good beer or good chocolate can have differences in their chemical composition, though this does not count as much as it counts in olive oil.