Sydney Rea - Oct 17, 2016

How to Taste Olive Oil


There's an art to tasting olive oil. Much like wine, olive oil follows strict guidelines when it comes to tasting procedures. You didn't know this?! That's okay, we're going to teach you how to taste olive oil the right way. 

But before we begin, you must understand what to look for in good EVOO. Not all olive oil is created equal, and certainly not all is created to the high-standards that are required to make extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil has both positive and negative sensory attributes that are rated on a scale from 1-10 based on their presence in the oil. 

There are 3 positive sensory attributes found in EVOO:


This sensation is apparent in the nose and on the tongue. It can be described as green, medium or ripe fruit. Some common good attributes may be green apple, herbaceous, nutty, ripe banana or buttery.

This sensation is apparent on the tongue soon after tasting. Bitter does not mean bad, it merely defines the profile of the oil.

This sensation is apparent on the back of the throat after swallowing the oil. It will give the sensation of hot peppers in the case of a strong pungent attribute.

Become an Olive Oil Expert: Learn more here!

Now, there are also a number of negative sensory attributes that can be associated with EVOO, and these deficiencies are related to poor harvesting, processing and/or storage practices. It is imporant to note that none of these negative sensory attributes can be present in an EVOO. 

Negative sensory attributes: 

  1. Grubby - Typical aroma of olives that have suffered a strong attack by the grubs of the olive fly.
  2. Hay-wood - Produced from olives that are dried out, giving a woody characteristic.
  3. Earthy -Typical aroma of oil obtained from olives that have fallen to the ground or dirty because they have not been washed.
  4. Fusty -Typical aroma of oil from olives that have undergone an advanced stage of anaerobic fermentation.
  5. Winey/Vinegar -Typical aroma of oil from olives that have undergone and advanced stage of aerobic fermentation.
  6. Musty -Typical aroma of oils obtained from olives that have been affected by fungi or mold.
  7. Metallic - Associated with oils that have been in prolonged contact with metallic surfaces during crushing, blending, pressing or storage.
  8. Heated/Burnt - Characteristic flavor of oils caused by excessive and/or prolonged heating during processing.
  9. Rancid - Flavor of oil that has undergone an intense process of oxidation.

Got it? Great! You're almost ready to taste...just grab the items below:

  • 4-6 different Olive Oils
  • A small glass 
  • A pen and notepad
  • A glass filled with water (to cleanse your palate)

(Notice how I didn't mention bread. We're not using bread to taste. That's right, no bread. Bread is not recommended when tasting olive oil as it negatively affects and distracts from the taste of the oil.)

Ready to Swirl, Sniff, Slurp and Swallow? Here we go!


Once you master the art of tasting olive oil, don't just stop there. We recommend you teach your friends, too, and throw an Olive Oil Tasting Party!

Have you ever tasted olive oil this way before? 
Will you try it out after reading this? 
Let us know in the comments below!

Want to expand your EVOO knowledge?

Read our guide about EVOO!