Is Olive Oil Similar to Wine?

Wine and olive oil are completely different products, however, the method in which they’re grown and produced is strikingly similar. Cofounder Skyler Mapes worked at Rock Wall Wines before venturing into the olive oil industry. It was there that she learned about wine production and later realized how akin it was to making olive oil.

Both grapes and olives are fruits that should be picked at the peak of ripeness then pressed/crushed as quickly as possible. Both products go through some versions of milling/crushing, decantation/filtering, and storage before being bottled. The difference is in the fermentation and aging process.

Fresh Fruit

For both wine and olive oil, the health of the fruit is of the utmost importance. Without incredibly healthy olives we cannot produce a very high quality extra virgin olive oil. It’s the exact same with wine. Farmers are at the base of both industries.

It’s important to know where and how the fruit is grown and how fresh it is.

Milling/Crushing

The first step in both olive oil and wine production is milling/crushing. Olives are washed then crushed. The same for grapes for red wine. However, with olive oil, the product that comes out of the mill is closer to finality. With wine, the crushed red grapes produce juice which is still years away from being a mature wine.

Fermentation

Grapes will go through a fermentation process in order to turn into alcohol. Fermentation and/or yeast of any sort is not good for olive oil. Olive oil is a very clean product in the sense that no bacteria or living organism can live within it.

For both olive oil and wine, steps are taken throughout the production and storage process to ensure tanks and equipment are clean. All equipment must be thoroughly clean in order to avoid any undesired contamination. Contamination of unwanted elements can result in defects for both products.

Decanting/Filtering

Olive oil and wine go through some extent of decanting and/or filtering. Decanting is tanking a product and waiting for the heavier particles (olive particles or grapes) to settle to the bottom of the tank. Filtering is pushing the product through a filter or series of filters in order to remove any additional sediment, impurities, and/or to make the product shelf-stable.

Both products are quite complex, therefore, the decantation and filtration process may never take place at the same time during production.

Aging

This is where olive oil and wine could not be more different. Whether in the tank or barrels, wine is almost always aged to some extent. Olive oil should never be aged. Treat olive oil like fruit juice and consume it with the assumption it has an expiration date. Olive oil will not get better with age regardless if the bottle has not been opened.

Storage

Olive oil and wine have similar storage requirements in the sense that you should store both away from natural light and in a cool, dry place. If you have a wine cellar under the stairs, underground, or in a spare cabinet without temperature control, olive oil can be stored in that space. Wine refrigerators and cellars, especially for whites, with temperature control tend to be too cool for olive oil. Read more about proper storage techniques for olive oil here.

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