Desirable and Undesirable Adjectives You Might Find When Tasting Oils

Posted by Alexa Ketterling

Ever feel like when you are tasting Extra Virgin Olive Oil you can taste certain flavors hiding within it? Things like grass, pepper, butter, cucumber, tomato or other flavors are common to taste in different types of EVOO. That is, if you know what flavors to look for!

Each of these adjectives describing the favor profile and are a part of a full taste assessment.

You can find both negative and positive flavor attributes when it comes to Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Today, we will breakdown the different adjectives you might use to describe EVOO.


Desirable Adjectives To Use When Tasting Olive Oil 

As you taste different olive oils, there a certain words that really help to explain and highlight what you are tasting. Whether you are tasting by yourself or in a group you may hear these common descriptors:

Floral: perfume/aroma of flowers
Grassy: aroma of fresh cut grass
Peppery: a sort of sting in the throat and has a pretty good kick to it
Bitter: Considered a positive attribute because it is indicative of fresh olive fruit
Buttery: Smooth to the palate and creamy

These are just a few examples to get you started. You may be thinking to yourself, “Those all seem like odd adjectives to use!" But, if you have ever tasted oils before, you know these are actually accurate descriptions. You can, in fact, taste the grass in a grassy Extra Virgin Olive Oil!



The list above will just get you started. There are truly so many different flavors you can taste in a great Extra Virgin Olive Oil. If you don’t feel as though you are tasting one of the most common adjectives above, here’s a more detailed list to review:

Apple/Green Apple: indicative of certain olive varietals
Almond: nutty (fresh not oxidized)
Artichoke: green flavor
Astringent: puckering sensation in mouth created by tannins; often associated with bitter, robust oils
Banana: ripe and unripe banana fruit
Bitter: considered a positive attribute because it is indicative of fresh olive fruit
Buttery: creamy, smooth sensation on palate
Eucalyptus: aroma of specific olive varietals
Floral: perfume/aroma of flowers
Forest: fresh aroma reminiscent of forest floor, NOT dirty
Fresh: good aroma, fruity, not oxidixed
Fruity: refers to the aroma of fresh olive fruit, which is perceived through the nostrils and retro-nasally when the oil is in one’s mouth.
Grass: the aroma of fresh-cut (mowed) grass
Green/Greenly: aroma/flavor of unripe olives
Green Tea: characteristic of some unripe olive varieties
Harmonious: balance among the oil’s characteristics with none overpowering the others
Hay/Straw: dried grass flavor
Herbaceous: unripe olive fruit reminiscent of fresh green herbs
Melon: indicative of certain olive varietals
Mint: indicative of certain olive varietals
Pear: indicative of certain olive varietals
Peach: indicative of certain olive varietals
Peppery: stinging sensation in the throat which can force a cough (see pungent)
Pungent: stinging sensation in the throat which can force a cough (see peppery)
Ripely: aroma/flavor of ripe olive fruit
Round/Rotund: a balanced, mouth-filling sensation of harmonious flavors
Spice: aroma/flavor of seasonings such as cinnamon, allspice (but not herbs or pepper)
Sweet: characteristic of mild oils
Tomato/Tomato Leaf: indicative of certain olive varietals
Tropical: indicative of ripe olive fruit with nuances of melon, mango, and coconut
Walnut/Walnut Shell: nutty (fresh not oxidized)
Wheatgrass: strong flavor of some green olive fruit
Woody: indicative of olive varietals with large pits



Undesirable Adjectives To Use When Tasting Olive Oil 

When it comes to adjectives that you really shouldn’t necessarily hear when tasting oil, some of them might be:

Burnt: Caused by processing at to high a temperature
Dirty: Oil has unpleasant odors
Hay-wood: Flavor of dried olives
Musty: Humid flavor, moldy
Vinegary: Sour flavor caused by aerobic fermentation of olives during processing

If these are something you are smelling or tasting there may be a chance of oil that has oxidized through improper storage, that it has not been used quickly enough or that it has not been processed correctly.


In Conclusion 

As you explore and taste different oils really try to focus on what flavor you are experiencing. Search for the fresh olive flavor, the kick of spicy pepper or the sweet smoothness of butter.

Everyones tastebuds are different, and can experience the same oils differently. You may be surprised at what flavors you notice, compared to others who are tasting with you.

Topics: Olive Oil



Related Articles

Download The eBook - All About Olive Oil

Enter your email below to get commodity market updates & cost-saving tips for procurement professionals.






Buy & Ship Direct From Our Online Store

Select an item below to see live pricing (LTL quotes included at checkout).



Now you can order direct from our website, without ever talking to a salesperson.  We've created this new industry-leading online storefront which makes the bulk oil buying process so much easier!

  • See live price quotes for oils online
  • Shipping costs are auto-calculated at checkout
  • Buy single drums, partial pallets or full pallets
  • Pay with a credit card
  • Ships from Centra Foods within 1-3 business days