Step 1. Take a clean tot glass or similar and pour in approximately 30ml of oil. Observe the colour of the oil, though this has no importance in determining the quality of the oil. Professional tasters pour the oil into blue glasses so that they are not influenced at all by the colour of the oil. Good olive oils can be coloured across the entire range of yellows and greens.
Step 2 . Warm the glass by holding tightly in your hand. Swirl gently and bury your nose in the mouth of the glass.
Step 3. Inhale. Think about the aroma and try to identify the different notes.
Step 4. Take a sip of the oil and swish it gently around your mouth until tongue and palette are coated. Keeping the oil in your mouth, clamp your teeth together and suck air through slightly parted lips. This is when the bitterness of the oil comes through. It is a matter of taste as to how to how much bitterness is considered to be ideal.
Step 5. If the oil hasn’t already gone down your throat, it can now be swallowed or spat out.
Tasting and evaluating olive oil is as individual as tasting and judging a wine. So much depends on individual perception. Some people enjoy very strong bitter oils, some prefer mild gentle oils. Olive oil producers strive to produce balanced fruity oils with a lingering after taste of slight bitterness by blending different varieties of olive. Single variety oils may result in oils that have an overriding note characteristic of the variety which some people prefer.
However you enjoy your oil, buy South African olive oil. The producers generally can identify all the components of the oil, don’t use substandard components or employ questionable practices in squeezing the last drop of oil out of twice and thrice pressed olives.