Becoming an olive oil sommelier

In September I will be moving back to Italy to teach and do research at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo (picture above), which is associated with Slow Food. This is an amazing place for anyone interested in the history, culture and future of food in the world. Besides teaching an anthropology of food course, I hope to indulge in a little formal learning of my own: I would like to become an olive oil sommelier.

This is something I have been interested in for a few years. As far as I know, there are no courses offered in Canada (surprise, surprise). I looked into a few courses in Italy when I was still living in Umbria but had no idea which were above-board. The problem is there are two serious courses, as far as I can tell. There is a course offered by the Italian Sommelier Association (AIS), whose main focus has traditionally been wine. The other course is offered by the The National Organisation of Olive Oil Tasters (ONAOO), who only specialise in olive oil. Who knew it could be so complicated.

I hope I can find a course that covers the history and culture of olives, as well as the science and art of tasting oil. All I know is there is a big, beautiful world of olives and oil that I want to learn more about.

2 thoughts on “Becoming an olive oil sommelier

  1. Ido

    I just arrived at your site by chance (well, I was looking for olive oil blogs and since there are so many…I ended up here) and I am already hooked.
    Good luck with your olive oil studies and business.

  2. Anonymous

    Hi Rachel, I saw your blog and thought I would send you to our site for Olive Oil, we are based in Spain in Cordoba, I have just moved here after 17 years in NY and am trying to settle into a new culture and language. The site is
    We ae one of the top producers in Spain and take our quality very seriously and have been awarded prizes etc in the different countries we sell. We sell to a company in Montreal. Anyway had a bit of time and hope this helps you on your quest. Best
    Peter Rubin

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