Consumers like it sweet

Luigi Caricato

Sweet oil is a technically incorrect term, but sums it up perfectly. In the past, oils were mostly sweet, leaving a soft sensation in the mouth; bitter, piquant notes were usually very faint, if not wholly absent. The consumers seemed to appreciate the sweetish flavour that is typical of bad, lampante oils, so-called because they were used as lamp fuel. Then came the fruity oils with their distinct piquancy and bitterness.

Oil gourmands prefer the latter oils, which are more robust and muscular. The average consumer, on the other hand, still tends to choose sweeter oils, with a more delicate flavour. What can be done? Should we despise or condemn all those who like oil produced from riper olives? Personally, I prefer products with a clear personality, and a certain degree of astringency doesn’t bother me, as long as the oils are elegant, harmonious and well balanced. I do believe however that we are all entitled to our opinion and preference.

Why stop those who prefer a more delicate flavour, from finding pleasure in oils lacking bitterness and piquancy? Tolerance is essential. There is no need to be drastic, consumers should always be satisfied, but they should also be led to appreciate bitterness and piquancy, which are positive traits of an oil, when harmonious and well balanced. Their preference for sweet oils however is not an insult to quality. Personal tastes should never be questioned.

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