Prosciutto di Parma DOP is produced in the hills and mountains outside Parma. It is characterized by its delicate, sweet taste and its tender, compact structure. To correctly taste it and fully appreciate its quality, be sure to cut it thin, preferably using a meat slicer. It should be served and tasted at room temperature.
Begin with a visual examination: if possible, observe the whole thigh to determine its size and the state of the skin. It should be fairly large. This is an indication that the pig was heavy, a guarantee of the best balance of fat and lean meat, which aides in aging. The skin should not have dark spots or too may hematomas. The layer of fat that covers the area near the bone should be white and completely in tact.
To evaluate the structure of a slice of prosciutto, begin by placing it on a plate. The slice should be thin and should curl slightly, assign of good aging. The meat should be uniformly pink or red in color and marbled with snow-white fat. The fat should never seem yellow. The possible little white dots are crystals of amino acid that develop if the prosciutto has been aged for a long period of time. They do not affect the quality.
Touch analysis: By touching the prosciutto, you should be able to determine how long it was aged. If it is resistant to pressure near the bone, it was aged well and for a good amount of time. A slice of the meat should be slightly greasy, but not sticky.
Olfactory analysis: Bring the slice of prosciutto to your nose. You should smell notes of spices, butter and, in longer aged meats, hazelnut. You should not smell aromas of fresh and boiled meat, rancidity and cheese.
Flavor analysis: In your mouth, Prosciutto di Parma should be balanced in flavor between sweet and savory. The saltiness should not cover the sweetness, the bitterness should not overpower the acidity. The flavor should be persistent. When chewing, the prosciutto should seem soft, but not elastic, and have a good structure.