As much as the great wines, olive oil is a deeply mysterious thing. You just have to try one, maybe soaking a slice of bread with it, to discover that its taste resembles no other oil that you have tried until then. Just try accompanying the same dish with two differently-flavoured oils, and you get a clear sense of how the taste that impresses itself on the palate changes.
This is why at Dievole we’re fond of saying:
“Oil is not a condiment, nor is it an ingredient. It’s the heart of our meal.”
What do we mean? Every oil has a particular sensation, a dominant flavour that runs through it and best expresses itself when it comes into contact with a certain dish. Those who know Nocellara, for example, will know that its flavour is redolent of tomato, and that it therefore goes particularly well with certain types of fish, and particularly badly with other foods.
The range of flavours is as varied as it is limitless. So important are they that they can be compared to the gustatory notes in wine.
“Oil is precious. We choose it with care.”
The flavours – The soul of an oil
On this subject, Gambero Rosso has published a beautiful “Little Dictionary of Italian Cultivars”, inside which we find a list of the most importance olives and the olive presses that work them. Without getting bogged down in too much detail, let’s have a look at the main players. Before diving in, let’s just remind ourselves that these “sensations” are more than just flavours, more akin to a soul: something inside and intrinsic to the oil, something that reveals itself by degrees: whether tasted in a glass or accompanying a course of a meal.
Here, then, are the primary sensations:
Grass: The aroma reminds us of fresh grass. Think of a meadow, newly cut.
Flowers: Rich, enveloping, aromatic. These oils evoke a floral sensations on the nose and tongue.
Almond: A bitter aftertaste, sharp and pungent, yet highly delicate and unique.
Wood: Scent of undergrowth, warm character, robust in the mouth.
Leaves: Slightly bitter and astringent. Have you ever put a fresh leaf to your lips? The sensation is what you get in this type of oil.
Tomato: Typical of Sicilian olive oils. A sensation that speaks of green tomatoes, rich and varied. Ideal for dishes with clear, distinctive flavours.
Ripe fruit: Tends towards sweetness. On the nose, exactly what you would expect from an olive: warm and ripe.
Piquant: Particularly widespread in oils made from country-grown olives. Full of antioxidants and with a spicy aftertaste.
Bitter: Decisive, and often paired with spicy flavours. This is the taste of olives as they ripen, just as they start changing colour from a leafy green.
Five oils for five senses – Dievole
What’s special about Dievole is that we have a range of five oils that give five different sensations. And now you can see why we’re so proud of them.
We hope that this article helps you to get your bearings in this vast world, and that your dishes are the best expression of the oils you choose: deep, delicate, perfect.