Exploring the Olive Oil-and-Wine Connection

Wine Olive PairingCalifornia’s climate is similar to that of the Mediterranean, and perfectly suited for growing olives.

Lot, hot, dry summers promote growth of olives with optimal oil and antioxidants that are believed to enhance health and longevity.

Numerous olive varieties are grown in California, the most prominent being Manzanillo, Sevillano, Mission, Ascolano, Frantoio and Arbequina. Harvesting at varying degrees of ripeness captures a wide array of flavors — just like what happens with wine grapes.

This means California’s artisan olive growers are able to create a bounty of diverse, extraordinary Extra Virgin Olive Oils that cover an incredible spectrum of flavor possibilities. There truly is an olive oil for virtually every palate and culinary use.

A company called We Olive opened its first store in 2003 to create a place for these artisan growers to market their products. Now, it is California’s premier olive tasting bar and retailer, offering olive oils from more than 20 producers at eight locations throughout the state.

Tasting an olive oil is the best way to be sure it’s what you like — and what you’d like to share with others. We Olive provides a place where people can enjoy the full spectrum of the finest olives, olive oils, other foods and gifts that the Golden State has to offer.

It’s kind of like going to a winery’s tasting room, only with a different product to taste, assess and, perhaps, purchase.

A few years ago, Carol Firenze wrote a blog about the similarities (and a few differences) between wine and olive oil. One main difference is that olive oil typically does not age well; it’s best to consume it within a month or month-and-a-half after opening the bottle. Check out Carol’s informative blog here.

Many wineries in Italy have been making olive oil for generations. In recent years, a growing number of California wineries have joined their Italian cousins in that pursuit. Two of my favorite olive oils made by Golden State vintners come from Jacuzzi Family Vineyards and B.R. Cohn Winery.

Jacuzzi is located in Sonoma, and its award-winning olive oil is produced on the estate by The Olive Press. B.R. Cohn, in Glen Ellen, named its home vineyard after the grove of Picholine olive trees on the estate; it’s called Olive Hill Estate Vineyard.

Want to try a dish that successfully marries food, wine and olive oil? It’s tough to beat this Pizza Margherita recipe from Dominic Orsini, the winery chef at Silver Oak Cellars. The recommended wine pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon.

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In October, I’ll be spending five days in Barcelona. Like Italy, Spain is known for its olive oil, and I hope to find some unique bottles to bring back home. Have you been to Barcelona? If so, could you recommend an olive oil “destination” for us to check out? Click on “Leave a comment” below this blog’s headline, and let me know!

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Posted in Vinesse Style
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