So you’ve just mastered identifying the subtle differences between a malbec and a merlot, good for you. Now you get to graduate to oil tasting – important stuff unless you want some processed imposter dressing your salad. Gerrie Duvenage, head oil maker at Morgenster (arguably home to the best oil in the country), suggests the following as a guide to buying the best:
Make sure it’s in a dark bottle, there aren’t preservatives in the good olive oils so they are sensitive to sunlight. Extra Virgin olive oil is completely unrefined and natural and embodies the health benefits that are so widely punted.
Warm some oil up between your fingers and sniff it – if it smells like old bacon fat, it’s rancid and of poor quality. Neither should it smell mouldy or muddy.
It should not smell like wine – that means something went wrong in the oil-making process and your oil will taste like vinegar.
“It needs to smell like freshly cut grass or fresh green fruit like apples,” says Duvenage. “Don’t be put off by a bitter, peppery taste, it’s a sign of a good olive oil,” he says.
According to Duvenage there are three types of olive oil: delicate which has a sweet taste and is ideally suited for salads and fish. Then there are medium and intense types – these taste peppery and bitter and are best suited for red meat and soups.
“Look for the SA olive seal on olive oil bottles, so that you know you’re buying quality olive oil and not the cheap imitations that are being dumped on our market,” he says. If it’s imported and costs less than R100, chances are it’s not the real deal and not very healthy.