During the olive oil campaign, in October and November, we have tastings for up to twenty or thirty oil samples a day, studying the blends we have produced and making the necessary corrections, where necessary. With wine, whisky, and coffee, as well as chocolate, one speaks of a blend when two or more products with different characteristics are combined with the objective of realising one with the ability to enhance and heighten the qualities of each component. Among our staff, it is well-known that blending is a virtue which distinguishes us in the olive oil market and, historically, Italy boasts of having the best professionals in the industry. In our country, from the historical point of view, mixing has been performed since oil started being used as a food product. Faced with insufficient local production (in Italy we have hundreds of small growers of varying sizes), we learned to combine productions which arrived from different places, to produce oils which could best satisfy the taste of customers in different national and international markets. As a subject, the blend is fascinating but is spoken of only in whispers. Too often it is linked to shady practices, carried out to camouflage and disguise low category oils. In reality, blending is a true and proper art which requires the important work of planning and creativity, accompanied by a deep knowledge of oil. Safeguarding the Italian skill of blending is among the most significant challenges faced in the olive oil sector today. Italians invented the art of the tasting session and the declension of flavour. It is therefore a good thing to also reassess our ability to know how to create a blend of the highest quality.
This text is taken from chapter 2 of the book “An Olive Oil Family” written by Cristina and Federico Santagata, published by Olio Officina Edizioni.