Fun and unique gifts are a challenge but so satisfying when you get a good one. This year one of my favorites was a home olive oil tasting. Small bottles of eight olive oils from different countries provided the perfect beginning. The oils were from Sicily, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Tunisia, Turkey, Spain, and Syria. With the oils I included articles about tasting olive oils and how to evaluate them. In addition, there was a score card. From the articles and score card, I produced a booklet to include with the oils. This is the instruction that was included on how to do the tasting:
1. Pre-pour the 2 oz servings of each oil into wine tasting glasses. The glasses should be numbered to match corresponding numbers on the olive oil bottles. It is easiest to number the olive oil bottles first and then make sure that you pour the correct oil in to the corresponding numbered glass. You can number the glass or you can create a place mat with numbered circles. Then place the wine glasses on the circles. So, you would have 8 circles on a piece of paper. Each circle would be numbered 1 through 8.
2. Provide a score card (which can be a spreadsheet that includes the characteristics to be tested) and a place for comments and a writing instrument per person. The left column specifies the oils (Oil #1, Oil #2, etc.) The right columns are labeled color, aroma, taste, and overall score. Taste each wine and score the oil based on color, aroma, and taste. After all oils have been tasted and scored, grade your first, second, third, fourth choices and so on.
3. When everyone is finished, have a conversation to see if anyone can identify the oils. You might even have prizes for those who get all or most correct.
4. Pass out product details that you know: name, producer, country and region, olive varietal, price, etc., and where they can be purchased.
The most important result is the preferred olive oil for your tastes and a fun educational experience for all.