Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the Italian Gold
As Thomas Jefferson once said “The olive tree is surely the richest gift of Heaven”. Let’s start with some fundamental facts you should know. In Italy, olive oil is a lifestyle: Italians use around 12 liters per person every year! Yes, it is a lot!
OLIVE-OIL PRODUCTION IN ITALY
Olive trees are an icon of the Italian landscape. Unrivalled for quality and value, olive oil is the essence of Italian cuisine, an indispensable ingredient at every meal. “Belpaese” (aka Italy, the “beautiful country”) is the second largest producer of extra-virgin and virgin olive oils (after Spain) in the world. Specifically, the Italian region of Puglia is the front-runner, followed by Calabria and Sicily regions.
WHAT IS EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the Italian gold, is obtained by crushing fresh olives and extracting the precious juice. Not all olive oils are created equal! The purest and noblest form of olive oil is “extra virgin”. An olive oil can be classified as “extra virgin” when it is made from pure, mechanically cold pressed olives without manipulation and is stored or bottled immediately after pressing. It is also about acidity levels. To obtain this classification its acidity level should be below 0.8%. If the olive oil has slight defects of aroma or flavor and is found to have an acidy between 0.8 and 2.0, it is graded just as virgin.
BEWARE OF IMITATIONS
The finest Italian extra virgin oils are classified as Protected Denomination of Origin (DOP) and Protected Geographical Indication (IGP). Beware of imitations: Some of the common olive oils sold as ‘extra-virgin, are not! Always carefully read the label.
THE TASTING PROCESS
First, swirl. Pour the oil into a glass, cup the glass with the hand to warm the content and swirl to let it release the aroma. Second, smell. Smell the oil fragrance and aroma. Third, slurp.
Take a slurp and inhale. Forth, swallow. Gulp your oil to complete your tasting experience.
FRUITY, BITTER AND PUNGENT
Remember these three Italian words: fruttato, amaro and piccante! That is how an excellent Extra Virgin Olive Oil should taste: Fruity, bitter and pungent. There is a superb variety of olives trees in Italy. There are at least 400 different cultivars (olive varieties). The region, of course, influences the taste and the flavor of the product. In North of Italy the olive oil taste is delicate, smooth; if the olive oil is produced in the central regions like Tuscany, the taste is more pungent, with herbal notes. Continuing towards the South, the oil becomes stronger and richer.
A SELECTION FOR YOU
Looking for the best, organic, Italian extra virgin olive oil? Exploring Italy from North to South in search of quality and excellence, Magnifico gathers together for you a unique selection of the best and authentic Italian olive oil like the organic extra virgin olive oil produced in the Puglia region by Agricola Piano from “Peranzana” pure olive cultivar; or Campo d’Oro extra virgin olive oil, produced in Sicily; or Redoro, an extra virgin produced in Valpolicella, in the north of the peninsula. Olive oil lovers are spoiled for choice with Maginfico. Italian excellence just a click away!
- Donatella Mulvoni