Jane Says: You Can’t Go Wrong With These Olive Oils

I read somewhere that you should have a few different olive oils, but is that really true? If so, what are some good olive oils to buy?
Damien Michaels

Odds are, you keep several bottles of red and white wine on hand: inexpensive-but-decent plonk for everyday meals and cooking, and a few fancier, more distinguished bottles for company. And you tailor the wine to what you’re eating, right? If it’s not compatible with the dish (a weighty Cabernet with delicate seafood, say), that doesn’t mean the wine is of poor quality or corked, but dinner isn’t going to be what it could be.

Olive oils are much the same, for there’s enormous flavor variation among them. More than 100 olive cultivars, each with its own characteristics, are used worldwide to produce oil; other factors to take into account include the quality of the fruit, when it was harvested, the soil, the weather throughout the growing season, and the expertise of the producer. Some estate-bottled oils are made from one specific cultivar and thus vary, like wine, from year to year. Others are a uniform blend of several types, often from different countries, and the result will depend on the proportion of each used. Also like wine, olive oil is expensive to make, bottle, store, and ship—and the bona fide premium stuff is well worth its price.

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