Describing the taste and flavour of extra virgin olive oil is not always easy. A smell, a texture in your mouth… these things can be hard to translate into words! If you want to learn about the positive attributes of extra virgin olive oil, as well as its defects, keep reading. Here’s some specific vocabulary which will make you look like a true expert!
FRUITY: this is the best-known attribute for extra virgin olive oil. It refers to a set of olfactory sensations which depend on the variety and it reminds us of fresh olives. It is perceived directly and/or through the back of the nose. In fact, we can separate 2 types of fruity:
- Unripe fruity: this reminds us of green olives and freshly cut grass.
- Ripe fruity: this reminds us of ripe apple and nuts.
BITTER: is bitterness a positive attribute? Yes, it is! Bitter is a characteristic primary taste of oil obtained from green olives or olives turning colour. It is perceived in the circumvallate papillae on the “V” region of the tongue. Antioxidant components in extra virgin olive oil contribute to a bitter taste, so that’s a good sign for your health!
PUNGENT: Biting tactile sensation characteristic of oils produced at the start of the crop year, primarily from olives that are still unripe. It can be perceived throughout the whole of the mouth cavity, particularly in the throat.
To describe you ideal evoo there are other words you can use: well balances, with a delicate fruitiness, etc.
“A well balanced evvo will be fruity, but also slightly bitter and pungent”
Professional tasters are trained to identify the positive attributes of oil… but they are specially trained to detect any defect of the product! What are the most common defects we can find in extra virgin olive oil? Let’s see…
RANCID: if the product has undergone a process of oxidation, we may find a rancid flavour. A rancid smell is that reminiscent of old wood, or that of a room which has been closed for a long time.
MUSTY-HUMID: these may be due to olives which have been collected with mud or earth and haven’t been washed properly, or olives which have been stored for several days in humid conditions. It’s difficult to describe, but it’s certainly unpleasant!
FUSTY-MUDDY: this is a characteristic flavour of oil which appears when olives are piled or stored for several days and they have undergone an advanced stage of anaerobic fermentation.
WINEY-VINEGARY: we find this defect in oils which are reminiscent of vinegar.