The extra virgin olive oil is a versatile and precious product, but recognizing authentic quality can be a challenge. First of all, it is essential to observe the bottle: it must be made of dark glass to protect the oil from light, heat, and oxygen.
The label reveals crucial information, such as the reference oil campaign, preferably the current year.
Certifications: PDO and PGI
PDO and PGI certifications are significant indicators of oil quality. An oil with these certifications has passed rigorous analytical and physical tests, ensuring a high-quality product.
Labels can also indicate the oil’s fruitiness level, thus guiding the choice based on personal preferences and food pairings.
PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) are quality marks recognized at the European level that attest to the origin and quality of extra virgin olive oil and can help recognize Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
These certifications are the result of a rigorous evaluation process that considers various aspects, from the origin of the olives to the methods of production and processing.
- The PDO certification requires that the entire production process takes place within a well-defined geographical area, thus ensuring a close link with the territory of origin.
- The PGI certification, on the other hand, is slightly less restrictive, requiring that at least one stage of the production process is carried out in the area specified by the regulations.
The certification process is voluntary and is undertaken by the producer to ensure the quality of their oil. A third and recognized body is responsible for certifying the product’s compliance with specific quality standards and a predefined production regulation, thus offering an additional guarantee to the consumer.
Italy is a leader in PDO and PGI certifications, with a significant number of extra virgin olive oils boasting these prestigious certifications. This is a recognition of Italian excellence in the oil sector and the variety and richness of its oils.
PDO and PGI certifications protect the consumer. They ensure that the extra virgin olive oil has been produced following traditional methods and respecting high-quality standards, offering a traceable and authentic product.
From Producer to Consumer: The Importance of Olive Oil Tourism
Buying oil directly from the mill can be a guarantee of quality. Olive oil tourism, particularly between October and November, offers a unique opportunity to observe the production process and taste the new oil.
Olive oil shops and industry guides can be valuable resources to orient towards quality producers.
Olive oil tourism is a form of experiential tourism that is gaining more and more popularity, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the world of extra virgin olive oil, discovering its secrets, production techniques, and traditions. This practice is particularly widespread in regions rich in olive groves and oil traditions, like Puglia.
Participating in an olive oil tourism experience, visitors have the opportunity to visit olive groves, witness the olive harvest and oil production, and participate in guided tastings that allow appreciating the different qualities and characteristics of the oils.
This type of tourism promotes greater awareness and knowledge of extra virgin olive oil, allowing participants to learn to recognize quality oil, appreciating its different aromatic and taste nuances.
An interesting aspect of olive oil tourism is the possibility of “adopting” an olive tree.
This practice allows consumers to establish a direct link with the tree and the product, ensuring transparency and traceability. Adopting an olive tree is an experience that allows you to closely follow all the stages of the tree’s life and the oil production process.
Olive oil tourism not only helps spread the culture and knowledge of extra virgin olive oil, but it also represents an important opportunity for producing companies and olive-growing regions, promoting the enhancement of the territory and local traditions, and contributing to the economic and tourist development of the involved areas.
Recognizing Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Tasting
Tasting is essential to recognize a quality oil. The color can vary, but the scents must be fresh and vegetal, with bitter and spicy notes prevailing in taste. Participating in tasting courses can enrich knowledge and refine the ability to identify authentic quality extra virgin olive oil.
The art of tasting is fundamental to recognize a quality extra virgin olive oil. Oil tasting, similar to wine tasting, is a process that involves all the senses and allows evaluating the organoleptic characteristics of the oil, such as color, smell, and taste.
The color of the oil can range from yellow to intense green. However, color is not a reliable indicator of oil quality, as it can be chemically altered. It is also important to observe the oil’s clarity and density. A clear oil, resulting from filtration processes, is generally preferable.
The smell is a significant indicator of oil quality. A good extra virgin olive oil should have a fresh and natural smell, which can include notes of almond, artichoke, tomato, and freshly cut grass. An unpleasant smell or the absence of a fresh and natural scent are signs of low-quality oil.
The taste of the oil is evaluated through tasting. A good extra virgin olive oil should have a taste that can range from sweet to spicy, with notes of bitterness. The taste should be balanced and persistent in the mouth, leaving a pleasant aftertaste.
Fruitiness is a parameter that describes the intensity of the oil’s flavor and aroma. An oil can have a light, medium, or intense fruitiness, depending on the variety of olives used and the processing method. An oil with intense fruitiness has a more robust and marked flavor, suitable for accompanying dishes with a strong taste.
The Right Price for Quality Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is an investment in quality and health. A too low price could compromise the product’s quality.
It is essential to recognize the value of extra virgin olive oil, considering the benefits it brings to dishes and health in general.