The public is invited to participate in an olive oil tasting Saturday, Dec. 6, at UC Davis' Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.

The event, planned to be the first in a series of public tastings in the sensory theater of the newly opened institute, will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., with registration beginning at 12:30 p.m.

"This is intended to be an entertaining and educational event, as participants learn how to taste several different styles of olive oil, including fresh oil that will be just hours from the mill," said Dan Flynn, executive director of the UC Davis Olive Center, which is coordinating the event.

"People will have the opportunity to experience olive oil's positive sensory qualities, such as fruitiness, bitterness and pungency, and to learn about its history and health attributes," said Flynn, who will discuss the renaissance of olive oil in California during the tasting.

The guided tasting will be followed by a selection of appetizers made with olive products and paired with suggested wine varietals.

Guest speaker Alexandra Devarenne, an olive oil consultant, educator and sensory expert, will explain olive oil tasting techniques, culinary use, and influences on food style and quality. Nutritionist and functional foods expert Clare M. Hasler, executive director of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, will talk about olive oil's health benefits.

Seating for the olive oil tasting is limited. Tickets, costing $75 per person, may be reserved by sending checks to Patricia Glass, Robert Mondavi Institute, University of California, One Shields Ave., Davis, Calif., 95616. Checks should be made payable to the UC Regents.

More information about the event can be obtained by contacting Glass at (530) 754-6349 or pglass@ucdavis.edu.

The UC Davis Olive Center is one of four research and outreach centers within the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. It is dedicated to enhancing the quality and economic viability of California table olives and olive oil. More information about the Olive Center is available online at http://olivecenter.ucdavis.edu/.