Olive Oil Tasting in the Land of Taste

| September 14, 2012 | 28 Comments

Il Bello E Il Buono Olive Oil, Verucchio, Emilia Romagna, Olive Oil Tasting

Don’t expect to show up in Italy and begin to wow everyone with your knowledge of food. It just won’t happen. From the moment Italians are born, they are surrounded by traditional, and local produce.

In Emilia-Romagna, the land of taste, this is even more ingrained in their culture.

Everyone is passionate about food. From the smallest villages to the largest cities, the locals live, breath, and eat fine food.

Il Bello E Il Buono Olive Oil, Verucchio, Emilia Romagna, Olive Oil Tasting

In this fast paced world that we now live in, so many people forget that food is not just about sustaining our lives. It is meant to be enjoyed. You should put time aside to learn everything you can about the art of food.

And to be inspired to learn, you have to hear it from a passionate local.

In the small hilltop village of Verucchio we did exactly that. Overlooking the Adriatic coastline in Emilia-Romagna we met Mario. A truly passionate local.

Mario Il Borgo Olive Oil

We have met very few people during our lives that have loved their jobs unconditionally. I don’t just mean they enjoy getting up every morning to go to work. But truly love and are passionate about what they do.

Mario is one of those people.

For 3 hours we were treated to a personal tour of Verucchio, including the art of producing olive oil, and the art of olive oil tasting.

Mario has just over 1300 Olive trees on the slopes below Verucchio and employs a staff of one. Himself. He does everything by hand and produces one of the best Extra Virgin Olive Oils in the world. Rightly called Il Borgo, which translates into “The Village”.

Il Bello E Il Buono Olive Oil, Verucchio, Emilia Romagna, Olive Oil Tasting

We spoke at length with him about why he doesn’t try and upscale or employ more people to help him. His answer was pure and simple.

“For the quality”

Il Bello E Il Buono Olive Oil, Verucchio, Emilia Romagna, Olive Oil Tasting

It dawned on us then, that the rest of us are doing it all wrong.

Here he was, working his butt off every day, and had been for the last 40 years, and he just wanted to make sure he was putting out the best product possible. He wasn’t after fame or fortune.

He just wanted to share his love for Olive Oil. We were instantly enthralled by him.

He knew everything there was to know about Olives and the art of creating high quality Olive Oil.

As we settled down for our tasting Mario ran through a couple of tips to make sure we got the full aroma and taste from Olive Oil we tried. We want to share our tips learnt with you as well.

Il Bello E Il Buono Olive Oil, Verucchio, Emilia Romagna, Olive Oil Tasting

Still too ripe.

Tips for Tasting Olive Oil

While you don’t swig Olive Oil like a beer or wine, the same process for enjoying it apply.

Smell

The smell of olive oil is very important and critical to its flavor.

Pour a little bit of extra virgin olive oil into a glass, allowing it to warm between your hands. Swirl a few times and then stuff your nose right in there to get the full aroma. We were told that we should expect to notice the smell of fresh-cut grass, tropical fruits, and ripe olive fruit.

It smelt like oil to me. Still excellent, but I just wanted to move onto the tasting stage.

Il Bello E Il Buono Olive Oil, Verucchio, Emilia Romagna, Olive Oil Tasting

Sound

Place you ear in the glass now. You should be able to hear the sounds of summer, a soft breeze, and people laughing at you. Turns out Mario also has a sense of humour and was just pulling our leg. Luckily I held my tongue, as I was about to agree that I could hear summer.

Taste

Take a sip. But don’t swallow. You want to hold it as you breath in though your mouth. Now shut your gob and breathe out through your nose. This will give you a whole bunch of other flavors that you wouldn’t have tasted if you just swallowed it in one gulp.

The Il Borgo Olive Oil is quite spicy compared to others around the region. Mario explained that Verucchio is the perfect distance from the sea. Therefore the salty air, fertile soil and altitude all contribute to that spice.

This slight spicy flavour means it is a very high quality oil. The best can give you just the tiniest tingle but can be strong enough to make you cough.

Il Bello E Il Buono Olive Oil, Verucchio, Emilia Romagna, Olive Oil Tasting

In addition to the fruity and spicy tastes, it can be quite bitter. If you ever try an olive right off the tree then you will agree they are bitter (don’t do it). And since Olive Oil is made from uncured olives, you get the same result.

The blacker the fruit, the less bitter it is. That is why Mario waits until his olives are still half green and black. The blacker they are, then the sweeter the Olive Oil.

Il Bello E Il Buono Olive Oil, Verucchio, Emilia Romagna, Olive Oil Tasting

Our tasting didn’t last very long…

Next time you are cooking dinner or having a few snacks in front of the television, try our tips to see how your Olive Oil compares. It might be time to give Mario a call and order some in.

You won’t regret it!

Extra Travel Tips:

You can get to Verucchio by bike from Rimini along the river pathway. Although it is quite a trek up to the top of the village from there.

Travel to Rimini from around Europe either by Rail (www.trenitalia.com) or by flying direct to the International Federico Fellini Airport.

Mario will show you around if you want to check out the rest of the town including where to find the best pizza!

Il Bello E Il Buono Olive Oil, Verucchio, Emilia Romagna, Olive Oil Tasting

Disclaimer: We were guests of the Emilia-Romagna tourism board as part of the hugely successful #Blogville project. As always, our thoughts and photos, are our own.

About the Author ()

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

Comments (28)

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  1. Agggh this post has gotten me hungry! I friggin’ love olive oil and mopping it up with good, Italian bread is divine. My mum mixes it with some good balsamic vinegar and a bit of salt…I could sop some of that up right about now.
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..Foodporn Friday Gets Fruity

  2. Laurence says:

    I’m all about hearing summer. It’s actually an amazing sound, full of cicadas and swaying willow fronds, brooks burbling gently to themselves…
    Laurence recently posted..A recommended itinerary for a day in Barcelona

  3. Spicy, lovingly made olive oil makes every dish (and every trip) better. Thanks for the tips. I’m off to listen to my olive oil…
    Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey recently posted..Beyond the Break – La Libertad, El Salvador

  4. Damn, now I really want some good bread and olive oil! Such simple things, but a good olive oil makes all the difference! I had never really thought of smelling it thou, or listening to it for that matter 😉
    Jarmo @ Arctic Nomad recently posted..Ha Long Bay – Where Ground Rises Sky High

  5. Diego says:

    Good thing about Italy, its food is very rich and full of spice and herbs. Based on my experience, Italians allot handful time to prepare food. Every meal is filled with scrumptious and enticing dishes.
    Diego recently posted..Which Canary Island Is For You?

  6. Always great to encounter people like this with such a passion for their work, city, etc. They seem to provide the most long lasting travel memories.
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..All Aboard The Napa Valley Wine Train

  7. I went to see a Margaret Cho show and she said she drinks olive oil for her voice. Not sure I could chug it on it’s own though. 🙂
    Raymond @ Man On The Lam recently posted..From Cranes to Caves: Unique Accommodations to Live Like an Eccentric

  8. Arianwen says:

    I wouldn’t have expected ‘olive oil tasting’ to be a pastime! It sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen. But such a great experience to learn from someone so passionate. So, what does summer sound like?!
    Arianwen recently posted..Avoiding whales in Isla de la Plata

  9. I recently did some olive oil tasting on Waiheke Island, New Zealand. This particular region is REALLY good for olives, apparently. So yum! Nothing like Italy, I’m sure, though. Great photos, too!
    travelFREAK recently posted..White Girl Slurs and Hair Gel: An Ecuadorian Love Story

  10. This sounds awesome! Olive oil is technically good for you, like red wine, in moderation. So I see nothing wrong with taking these tips and making this a hobby. I mean, if it’s good for me…:)
    Jess | GlobetrotterGirls recently posted..High Tea and Hiking in the Highlands of Malaysia

  11. Arti says:

    Quite an experience you had!! Olive oil is not that famous in India though but is used extensively in Italian food.
    Arti recently posted..Technological Marvels: Japanese Automation and Innovation

  12. I’m a big fan of good olive oil and brought back 6 bottles in my backpack. Mmmmm, tasty stuff!
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..PANAMA Photos- Glamping, Fishing, Dolphins & Rainbows

  13. Naomi says:

    Mmm…we need more of this in Girona!!
    Naomi recently posted..the place you should never go: olkhon island, russia

  14. Italy is, I must say, aside from its famous tourist spots, it is known for its food. Every household has its stock of olive oil and different spices which makes the food so flavorful and delicious.
    London Blogger recently posted..London’s Post-Olympic Games Attractions

  15. Sounds YUM! I had no idea you could actually go on an olive oil tasting session. I’m intrigued now!
    EurotripTips recently posted..Monday’s Postcard: The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

  16. Candice says:

    I wish I did an Olive Oil tasting like this when I was in Italy! I love meeting people like Mario when I travel, he is the kind of guy you will probably remember forever.

  17. I love olive oil and will certainly be trying your tips. Not only is it so tasty but it is a healthy source of fat which is a crucial part of a well balanced diet.

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