You’ve all heard of wine tastings, beer tastings, cheese tastings, etc. But have you ever been to or even heard of an olive oil and vinegar tasting? Olive oil and vinegar tastings sound very exotic, something you’d most definitely find in the Mediterranean while on holiday or possibly near the vineyards of Napa. Recently, I experienced this tasty “Mediterranean” treat first-hand. Oddly enough, I was no where near Greece or even Napa, but rather just north of Chicago in Lake Geneva, WI.
When I first walked by the olive oil store, I thought it was a restaurant. Anything with the name “olive” in the title has me intrigued so, of course, I wanted to get a closer look. I was so surprised to find that it was a full tasting room for dozens of olive oils and vinegars.
Before I go any further, you have to understand something first – I LOVE vinegar, particularly red wine and balsamic vinegars. When I was a little girl, my father was a purist when it came to salads – he still is – having only vinegar and oil with the greens. I loved the smell and taste of vinegar back then, and still do, and would often drink a spoonful of red wine vinegar minus the greens. Strange, yes, but oh so good. So, now you can see that when I stumbled upon this tasting room that I was in complete Mediterranean salad heaven!
There were so many oils and vinegars to choose from that I had a hard time deciding which to try first. To sample, each oil or vinegar barrel had a little spout coming out of it. You carefully turned the spout and filled a small cup with your savory treat. Very easy and such a cool concept! Because I had limited time to browse and taste, I opted to try the special of the day – the fig balsamic vinegar and the basil olive oil. The fig vinegar was outstanding – so unbelievable flavorful that I could just imagine eating it on my salad or marinating my chicken in the whole barrel! It did make my mouth pucker quite a bit though 🙂 The oil was equally as good, with just a enough basil to keep you wanting more. I’m not sure who the two condiments would go together, but I would definitely give it a try.
What I like most about the tasting room, other than the vast selections, was the feeling of not being pressured to buy. I felted that I could have tasted many more, if not all, of the oils and vinegars without the salesperson even batting an eye, but still being available if you have questions. This is how a tasting should be.
Have you ever been to an olive oil and/or vinegar tasting room? What was your experience?