Tasting Portuguese Olive Oil

May 19, 2012

During a tasting of Portuguese olive oil from Esporão, held at a restaurant in Évora, Portugal, it was interesting to note the similarity between tasting and talking about olive oil and wine. Fernando Coucelo from Esporão explained, "[We] are approaching olive oils the same way we approach the wines, [producing] mono-varietals and blends." We sampled two oils made from single olive types (the Cordovil and Galega) and two blends (the DOP Moura and the Selecção). The Cordovil had a fresh-cut grass smell and a touch of sweetness while the Galega had a lot of green apple and almond notes. And, like a wine artfully blended from two distinct grapes, the DOP Moura combined the best of both olives. The Selecção, a selection of the best olives, was unfiltered and the richest oil of the four we sampled.

tasting portuguese olive oil

I asked Fernando, pictured above at dinner, if there was, like wine stemware, special glasses for tasting olive oil. I think part of me was joking a bit but, to my surprise, they do exist. Small, balloon-shaped glasses that are blue (to keep you from being influenced by the color) are employed. Here's what one looks like:

tasting portuguese olive oil

Some glasses will have a lid on them as well; otherwise, you put your hand over the top of the glass as you swirl to trap the aromas, then remove your hand and inhale deeply.  Maybe I have a future as an olive oil sommelier?

Olive oils tasted while on a press trip to Portugal sponsored by Esporão, who invited me as a guest. Main photo of oils in cool tasting bowls shot at the winery.

(And now that you've heard about tasting the olive oil maybe you'd like to read about some Portuguese sparkling wine?)


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