Pairing Olive Oil with Food and Wine: A guide to complementary flavors

In Italian cuisine, there is a lot of emphasis on proper wine pairings. But that’s not the only pairing you should consider. Once you’ve selected the wine you want to enjoy with the food you plan to cook, you’ll want to consider which olive oil is best suited for the meal. The truth is that the right olive oil can complement the flavors just as beautifully as the right wine can. To create a balanced and delicious dish, use these tips for pairing olive oil with food and wine.

Tip #1: Choose the Right Olive Oil Intensity Level

Olive oils have different levels of intensity. Some have a delicate, mild flavor that may have some buttery or floral notes. A medium olive oil is a little more pungent and may have a bitter or peppery finish. A robust oil has a bolder flavor with a strong peppery finish.

The olive oil you choose should be of a similar intensity level as your food and wine. For example, a simple salad or seafood dish with a light butter sauce and vegetables would be best paired with a mild olive oil that won’t overpower those delicate flavors. On the other hand, if you plan to enjoy a hearty pasta or meat dish with intense flavors and a strong wine to match, you’ll want a robust olive oil that can hold its own against these flavors and won’t simply fade into the background.

Tip #2: Consider Congruent or Contrasting Pairings

Once you’ve determined which olive oil intensity level category is best suited to your dish, it’s time to think about flavors. High-quality Italian olive oils have distinct flavor profiles based on which types of olives were used to produce them and which part of the world they were made in.

There are two options for choosing an olive oil flavor profile to go with your meal. A congruent olive oil pairing has similar flavors as the food and wine, which helps to elevate those flavors. Contrasting olive oil pairings have different types of flavors from the food and wine, which helps to create balance in the meal.

For example, if your planned meal features a number of bitter and acidic flavors, you can choose an olive oil with sweeter notes to balance it out. On the other hand, a fruity Pinot Grigio, Vermentino, or Grillo might be even more appealing when paired with a meal featuring a similarly fruity olive oil.

Tip #3: Use Only Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For the best results in your olive oil pairing, make sure you use one that is graded as extra virgin olive oil. This is the finest grade of olive oil, indicating that the oil has been cold-pressed to maintain the health benefits and flavors of the olives.

Some of the world’s best olive oils come from Italy. Many regions of Italy have local, small-batch producers who have been creating high-quality extra virgin olive oils for generations. You can shop online at Olio2go to find some of the freshest and most flavorful olive oils available.