Tasting olive oil is similar to tasting wine. And just like wine, olive oil has a variety of flavors and aromas. High-end extra virgin olive oil should taste like fresh herbs and fruit, with a range of profiles from delicate to complex. In contrast, low quality oil just tastes like oil.
To taste olive oil, sniff to identify aromas, slurp noisily to emulsify the oil, and swallow to take note of which flavors you taste. The flavors emitted through extra virgin olive oils are determined by many factors, including the type of olives used, the ripeness of the olives, the growing conditions and how the oil is stored. As you taste, explore and identify the fruitiness, bitterness and pungency (or pepperiness) of the oil. As you taste, ask yourself is the aroma pleasant or unpleasant? Is the aroma mild, strong, or somewhere in the middle? How does the aroma compare to other oils? What three words would you use to describe the oil’s aroma? Can you sense bitterness on the back of your tongue? What’s the intensity of said bitterness? When you swallow the oil, how does it feel in your throat? Does it make you cough or does it sting? Between tasting oils, it is traditional to cleanse your palate with slices of Granny Smith apples and water.
Swirl the oil gently to release aromas. Keep the glass covered until you’re ready to sniff.
Sniff by placing your nose to the edge of the glass, inhale deeply through your nose and identify aromas.
Slurp noisily through your mouth to emulsify the oil and help spread it through your mouth. This will help release the flavors of the oil.
Swallow and take note of the flavors you taste.