Olive oil in containers on wood counter

Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar Glossary

What kind of olive oil should you buy? Cold-pressed, first pressed or unfiltered? Here is a list of terms you may see on a bottle of olive oil to help you choose. 

Olive Oil

Frequently referred to as EVOO, this type of olive oil is made entirely of cold-pressed olives. It takes longer to make, but the resulting oil is pure and highly flavourful. To be called “Extra Virgin,” the manufacturer must have their olive oil certified.

This type of oil uses more than one variety of olive. This is done to ensure consistent flavour from season to season, but it can still be certified as Extra Virgin. Not to be confused with Mixed olive oils, which may contain oils from other sources, such as grapeseed or sunflowers.

Olive oil made from a single type or variety of olive. Excellent for capturing the specific flavour characteristics of the olive and the region. It could be compared to a Single Malt Whisky.

Olives are first rendered into a pulp before being pressed or spun to release their natural oils. This process generates heat that can degrade the quality of the oil. To be certified as Extra Virgin, the olives must be kept under a specific temperature, typically around 27°C or 80°F.

Translating to “new oil,” this is the first oil pressed at the beginning of the season. It goes from harvest to pressing to bottling to market quickly, meaning it’s incredibly fresh. It also means this intensely flavourful and fragrant oil must be used promptly – it’s at its best for about three months. Also known as Olio Novello.

Olive oil that has not had all of its solid particulates removed by filtration. The resulting oil is cloudy and has a shorter shelf life but may be more flavourful and aromatic than some filtered oils. Unfiltered olive oil also contains more polyphenols than the filtered varieties.

Italian olive oils labelled as “Organic” are produced following EU Regulation 834, 2007. Many factors are involved that distinguish Organic olive oils, including how the olives are grown and the oil is processed.

There are three flavour categories of olive oils: delicate, medium or moderate, and robust. Delicate oils are lightly flavoured and suitable for food with mild flavour profiles that might otherwise be masked, including fish and baked goods. Moderate oils are well suited to grilled vegetables, chicken, salads, and more. Robust oils, with their strong flavours, are excellent for grilled meat, heavy sauces, pasta, and other intensely flavourful dishes.

Have you seen this word on bottles of Acetaia Malpighi products and wondered what it means? It simply means “delicious” – and we couldn’t agree more!

Balsamic vinegar drizzled over sliced strawberries on plate

Balsamic Vinegar

In Italian, this means “vinegar.” So, “Aceto Balsamico” translates to “Balsamic Vinegar.”

Modena is a province in Italy, home to the city of the same name. The dark, viscous vinegar bearing this name is typically made entirely with grapes grown in the province, though this is not always the case.

Freshly pressed grape juice that still includes the stems and skins.

This number expresses how dense or thick the vinegar is in grams per millilitre (g/ml). Generally speaking, the higher the density, the better the quality. For reference, white vinegar is approximately 0.96 g/ml; Balsamic vinegars begin around 1.20 g/ml with the densest varieties approaching 1.4 g/ml.

An acronym for “Denominazione di Origine Protetta” (Protection Designation of Origin). A DOP label indicates an EU certification guaranteeing provenance and quality, with all aspects of growing and production taking place in a single identified region. Traditional balsamic vinegar, or Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale, will always carry this designation.

An acronym for “Indicazione Geografica Protetta” (Protected Geographical Indication). A product with this designation has at least one component of its production or ingredients in or originating from a designated area. For example, Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP may have been made in Modena but with grapes grown elsewhere in Italy, or the reverse may be true.

Vinegar labelled as Condimento does not qualify for any of the various certifications for one reason or another. However, this is not an indication of quality; such vinegars range from artisanally crafted to commercial-grade.

Sometimes split into two words, this term translates to “extra old.” Extravecchio vinegar is aged for about 20 to 25 years.

Italian for “mature” and indicating an aged product, though it is non-specific about how long the aging process lasts.

Meaning “reserve,” this designation is used to indicate vinegar of unusually high quality, though there is no formal definition or regulation behind its application.

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