‘Equivalent with wine’: Growers branch out to become olive oil ‘sommeliers’

Share with us

The word sommelier is often associated with fine wine, but did you know that it can also be used when talking about olive oil? Central Victorian growers Milly Byrne and Julie Howard are olive oil sommeliers and just like their counterparts in wine they can assess its quality, chemistry and flavour.After receiving a Young Farmers…

‘Equivalent with wine’: Growers branch out to become olive oil ‘sommeliers’
Share with us

The word sommelier is often associated with fine wine, but did you know that it can also be used when talking about olive oil?

Central Victorian growers Milly Byrne and Julie Howard are olive oil sommeliers and just like their counterparts in wine they can assess its quality, chemistry and flavour.

After receiving a Young Farmers Scholarship from the Victorian Government in 2018, Ms Byrne, along with Mrs Howard, travelled to Europe to learn the art.

“We decided we would either going to go to Greece or Spain because they’re the experts — they’ve had olives since before 800BC,” Ms Byrne said.

The trip didn’t disappoint.

“When we did our research, we discovered that yes, there was an equivalent reality with olive oil as there is with wine,” Mrs Howard said.

Three blue tumblers sitting on a wooden bench.

It takes a bit of practice, but it is possible to develop a nose for olive oil.(

ABC Rural: Eden Hynninen

)

‘Identify the characteristics’

Over the course of a week the pair learnt to identify the characteristics and types of olive oil, its flavours and what kinds of food you can pair it with.

“We learnt when to identify that olive oil is off and what they call ‘lampante’, which means the oil is only fit for lighting a lamp, not for eating,” Mrs Howard said.

A woman sits at a table and sniffs olive oil in a glass.

Ms Byrne received a Young Farmers Scholarship from the Victorian Government in 2018.(

Supplied

)

She said extra virgin was pressed, plain olive juice, whereas virgin was mixed or slightly damaged.

Mrs Howard said the flavour of olive oil depends on where and when the fruit was harvested.

“A lot of growers pick them very green and so you’ll get very pungent, spicy flavours, which can also indicate polyphenol, that can show health benefits,” she said.

“They can also take on fruity flavours — it could smell like apricots, it could smell like bananas or green tomatoes.

“The whole idea is to taste the freshest olive oil and to know how to identify it with your nose, using your sensory responses.

“And then your palate, which includes your tongue, your taste buds, the side of your tongue and the retro nasal down the back — you need lots of practice.”

Pairing with food

When it comes to food, Mrs Howard said certain oils best suited certain meals.

“One of the qualities of olive oil is its texture — the arbequina olive is a very creamy buttery texture, so that can be used for an appetiser and I would use it as a dessert oil,” she said.

A hand writes on a piece of paper.

Ms Howard said the flavour of olive oil depends on a variety of factors.(

ABC Rural: Eden Hynninen

)

But she said that everyone’s taste buds were different.

“People should find some samples for tastings and discern what flavours there are, and the differences — someone else’s palate may not be the same as ours,” she said.

The pair hope to share their knowledge soon through classes.

Read More

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *