Olive Oil Tasting: Tasting Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil at Basilippo in Seville:
Spain produces some 45 percent of the world’s supply of olive oil, which makes it the largest olive oil producer in the world. So on any holiday in Spain, especially to the Andalucia region, an olive oil tasting tour is an opportunity that’s not to be passed up, especially for those who love this liquid gold.
On our journey from the city of Seville to Carmona we made a detour to the Basilippo Olive Oil Cultural Centre on the estate of the Hacienda Merrha. Basilippo makes extra virgin olive oil from the arbequina olive, one of the four most important varieties in Spain.
A Tour of the Olive Farm
Before tasting the olive oil, we were taken on a walk amongst some olive trees to learn about the trees on the estate, the soil, the quality of the olives and when the fruits are harvested.
Next we were shown how olive oil was traditionally produced in the past and how it is extracted at the present time by Basilippo.
Tasting Liquid Gold
Whilst olive oil is used regularly in our meals at home, I had never previously attended a proper olive oil tasting. Like many, I thought we were going to be given some bread to taste the olive oil with, but this was not the case. The olive oil tasting can be likened to wine tasting, but unlike wine, there’s a limit to how much olive oil one can taste.
Olive Oil Tasting Process
We were each given two small covered tumblers of Basilippo’s Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil – one that was spicy with hints of tomato, grass and spices and the other a bit sweeter with citrus flavour.
Before tasting the olive oil, we firstly warmed the tumbler in the palm of our hands to get it to about 28ºC (82.4ºF). This was easily done in the heat of the Spanish summer. We smelled the first tumbler to see if we could pick up the ‘hints of tomato, grass and spices’ and then a quick swig of tumbler to taste the oil. Some coughing and choking followed as the spiciness of first olive oil caught some people off guard. Next we tasted the sweeter citrusy oil and there was no drama here. Finally, we tasted the spicy olive oil again, but this time with chocolate ice-cream.
I must admit that whilst I like olive oil and love chocolate ice cream, combining the two didn’t do too much for me. Chocolate ice-cream is rich enough on its own and the chocolate flavour seemed to drown the taste of the olive oil. To the Spanish however, this seems to be a taste sensation.
Overall, the olive oil tasting was an interesting and educational experience. Whereas in the past I would only look for the colour of the oil and the label to tell me that it is first cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, I now know that there are other qualities to look out for.
Buying Olive Oil
After the olive oil tasting session, you can buy bottles of olive oil and gift sets from the small Basilippo shop. The olive oil is not cheap, about 16 Euros for two 250 ml bottles, but what you are buying is extra virgin olive oils that have won a number of overseas show medals.
To do a guided visit at Basilippo and olive oil tasting, it is recommended that you make a reservation. Meanwhile you can see more photos of olive oil tasting at Travelsignposts photo gallery Here.
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