Olive Oil Attributes and Descriptors - Used When Tasting and Evaluating Olive Oil | OLIVE FANTASTIC

Olive Oil Attributes and Descriptors – Used When Tasting and Evaluating Olive Oil

Date: December 11, 2015

Extra Virgin Olive Oil tasting is similar to tasting wine, you are tasting to judge if you like it or not, then use words like I have below to describe it.

In general, there are three categories of extra virgin olive oil:

  1. Delicate
  2. Fruity
  3. Robust

The specific attributes noted when tasting are:

  1. Fruitiness – The aroma of the oil and overall flavor of fresh, high quality, extra virgin olive oil
  2. Bitterness – An attribute good quality extra virgin olive oil has due to it’s fresh squeezed qualities, some oils are more bitter than others, and it adds to it’s complexity.
  3. Pungency – Which is a burning, tickling, peppery, scratchy sensation on the back of your throat once you swallow the olive oil.  This unique sensation you get from swallowing olive oil is caused by the polyphenols in the olive oil, it’s what makes olive oil a power food and so good for you!  The more burn, the more polyphenols in the oil, and the better it is for you technically (read more here on the health aspects of olive oil).  Some oil’s pungency will make you want to clear your throat, some will make you even cough because they have stronger pungency.  Typically we call these “Robust” oils, and oils that have very little to no pungency “Delicate” oils.

Positive Descriptors:

  • Fruity / Mature
  • Mild / Buttery / Soft
  • Bitter
  • Pungent
  • Green / Herbaceous / Pine
  • Tomato Leaf
  • Banana/Ripe Banana
  • Green Olive / Grassy / Leafy
  • Artichoke
  • Nutty / Strong Nut / Wood / Earthy
  • Floral / Stone Fruit
  • Tropical / Mango
  • Rock / Flint
  • Citrus / Grapefruit
  • Hardy / Thick
  • Hay / Straw
  • Wow! / This is blowing my mind! / Amazing! / Waahoo! / Yes, I need 12 of these!

Negative Descriptors:

  • Rancid – oxidized, old oil, smells and tastes like old rancid peanuts
  • Fusty / Muddy – Anaerobic fermentation (without air), rotting, fermenting, old, improper handling, damaged, oil in contact with bad sediment
  • Musty – humid, earthy, fungi and yeast, or muddy dirty fruit
  • Winey / Frozen – Aerobic fermentation (with air)
  • Metallic
  • Burnt
  • Acid / Sour
  • Dried
  • Muddy / Sediment


Learn how to taste olive oil by watching my Olive Oil Tasting Tutorial VIDEO, where I teach you the Four S’s. (click here to watch)


Dewey Tasting Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Dewey Tasting Extra Virgin Olive Oil in his tutorial video on his YoutTube channel – the link is right below this, in green…underlined. Cool.


(click here to see video)

Thank you for watching!  Dewey

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I love talking olive oil, please feel free to contact me via email or phone. Here is my contact information:

Dewey Lucero
Olive Fantastic
9385 Old State Hwy, Unit #4
Newcastle, CA 95658
Phone: 530-514-4006
Fax: 4215 4879 125
Email: dewey@olivefantastic.com