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You can meet an olive oil sommelier at this Port Moody shop

There are 139 varieties of olives grown in 23 different countries
Olive oil - Getty Images
There are five types of olive oil that are made from approximately 139 varieties of olives, each with their own unique chemical composition and flavour profiles.

A wine sommelier can set you up with the perfect pairing to complement your meal.

But did you know there’s also sommeliers for olive oil?

Next Monday and Tuesday (Sept. 12 and 13), olive oil sommelier and cook book author Emily Lycopolus will be giving special tasting workshops and recipe samplings at Olive the Best in Port Moody’s NewPort Village.

Lycopolus is a certified Level 2 olive oil sommelier. She’s been trained to identify different types of olive oils, their flavour profiles and how to pair them with food or use them in cooking.

There are five types of olive oil:

  • extra virgin
  • virgin
  • refined
  • pure
  • pomace

Comprising those types are approximately 139 varieties of olives that are grown in 23 different countries, according to the Olive Oil Times.

Each has its own unique chemical and taste characteristics, but their flavour can vary further depending on how the olives are cultivated and processed or when they are harvested.

And blending olive oils creates even more flavour possibilities.

It's Lycopolus' job — and passion — to navigate those flavours.

In a statement on her website, Lycopolus said she was introduced to the wonders of olive oil when she visited the olive grove run by her husband's family outside Fano, in central Italy. She learned how the olives were harvested and then crushed into oil.

When Lycopolus returned home to Victoria, she said she found the taste of commercial olive oil she bought in North American grocery stores lacked the flavour and fresh, grassy scent of the carefully crafted oils she’d enjoyed in Italy.

"I dove headlong into olive oil," she said, adding she wanted to find out everything about its chemical composition and its different tastes.

Lycopolus started importing olive oils. She opened a store, educating her customers along the way.

"After finding out so much my mind could explode, it did," Lycopolus said. "I just couldn’t keep it all inside."

She pursued her formal education in olive oil through the National Organization of Olive Oil Tasters that was established by the Union of Italian Chambers of Commerce in 1983 to enhance and protect the art of olive oil tasting.

Achieving Level 2 certification takes two years, along with annual refresher meetings.

At the workshops at Olive the Best, Lycopolus will help you distinguish between varieties of extra virgin olive oils and taste samples of recipes from her eight books that feature the cuisine of Italy, Greece, Spain and Syria. A copy of one of her recipe books is included in the $$65 registration fee.

To find out more, or to register, go to Olive the Best’s website.