Extra virgin olive oils open a wide range of pairing possibilities, due to their huge diversity of aromas and flavors.
We could group EVOOs into 3 main categories based on their sensorial characteristics: mild, intermediate and intense oils.
Mild EVOOs: they are perfect for delicate flavor dishes
These oils are fundamentally sweet in the mouth, with a very slight sensation of bitterness and itching. These delicate qualities work very well with soft-tasting foods such as white fish, fresh cheeses or light-tasting vegetables like zucchini, peas or beets. They are ideal for making mayonnaise and also for pastry preparations. The varieties Arbequina, and Empeltre in most cases are good examples of mild oils.
Intermediate EVOOs: they are the most versatile
Intermediate oils vary greatly in terms of sensorial qualities, usually, their aroma reminds of green and / or ripe fruit, in the mouth, they are sweet at first and they have slightly higher levels of bitterness and itching than mild oils. These EVOOs pair with foods of defined flavor but that is not extreme, such as mushrooms, artichoke, tomato sauces and meats such as veal or chicken.
Intense EVOOs: they are probably the healthiest
Intense oils would be the opposite end to the soft ones, they have a lot of body and character. Their aroma and flavor are generally intense, with nuances that evoke green fruits, grass, olive leaf, tomato, and other vegetables. They have higher levels of bitterness and itching than the other two categories, although sometimes you can perceive a very slight sweetness in some cases. They match very well with foods of intense flavor, such as cured cheeses, grilled red meats, or preparations that include garlic, peppers, or onion. Their sensorial characteristics are derived from their high content of polyphenols and other natural antioxidants that make them especially healthy.
They are easily differentiable through their tasting
To do this we must pour the EVOO into a glass of wine or similar. To perceive the aroma we will warm it with our hands, and then make two or three deep inspirations. Later we will sip a small amount, perceiving the sweetness in the anterior part of the tongue and then the bitterness in the posterior part, with a final itch in the throat at the end. With some practice, we can identify each type of oil.