Become an Olive Oil Tasting Expert with a Breakdown of These 12 Terms

Become an Olive Oil Tasting Expert with a Breakdown of These 12 Terms

Learning something new is always a remarkable achievement. One thing that you’ll love to try is tasting olive oil like an expert.

Contrary to what most people think, flavor isn’t just the taste you have in your mouth as the taste buds can only recognize sour, bitter, salty, sweet, and umami; there’s more to flavor than these five. Flavor is a mixture of what your tastebuds and sense of smell recognize. This is also applicable when tasting olive oil.

Olive Oil Tasting Terms to Know to Enter the Tasting Room an Expert

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) tasting has a lot more in common with wine tasting than you might think! Let’s go over some of the terms you can learn to sound like an olive oil tasting pro on your next visit to your local balsamic and olive oil tasting room:

1. Learning about the taste profile

Olive oil is composed of an interplay of flavors, aromas, and tastes, from fruity and soft to bitter and sharp. Some experts believe that all reasonably good-tasting olive oils are categorized into one or two taste profiles.

  • Floral: Florals have a sweet and light tinge mixed with notes of fruit, hazelnut, pear, and citrus. They are included in the lines of silky, round, and tender wines.
  • Grassy: Grassy ones tend to be characterized by some vegetal notes such as tomato leaves, fresh grass, green apple, and artichoke. Grassy oil acts as aromatic, young, and full of warmth.

Let’s compare it with wines. Floral is like white wine, while grassy oil is more like red wine.

2. More about the palate

When tasting olive oil, experts suggest inhaling first to have a whiff of the aroma. Next, let it reach retro-nasally and taste the bitterness of the oil through your tongue. After this step, swallow the oil to evaluate its pungency.

To further categorize olive oils within the palate flavor, it is vital to contextualize the palate by recommending oil usage and food pairings.

  • Mild

Mild or lighter oils are described to be mellow, delicate, buttery, and soft. These can be paired perfectly with delicate or light dishes like vegetables, fish, soups, pesto, potatoes, and eggs.

  • Medium

Medium oils are slightly peppery and feature a grassier taste profile. They can be excellently paired with tomato sauces, steak, pasta, bruschetta, and any recipe that you would like to have a brighter and more intense flavor.

  • Robust

Robust oils tend to give off an intense peppery and assertive flavor, commonly with notes of green apple skins, green tomato vines, and green tomato leaves. These oils are ideal for red meat, hearty stew, steamed salads and vegetables, and tomato-based sauces.

3. Some important palate terms are

Buttery: smooth and creamy sensation on the palate

Bitter: indicates a fresh olive fruit and is considered a good attribute

Fresh: fruity, good aroma, not oxidized

Peppery: gives a stinging sensation in the throat and may force a cough

Harmonious: not overpowering; creates a balance among the oil’s other characteristics

Spicy: flavor/aroma of seasonings like cinnamon

Round/Rotund: a mouthful, balanced sensation of great and harmonious flavors


Got all that? You sound like an expert already! For culinary enthusiasts, learning the terminology might be your starting point to diving deeper into the use of high-quality olive oil and balsamic, but for many others, it can just make the olive oil tasting experience more fun! Olive oil is one of the healthiest and most popular ingredients in the kitchen. It is interesting to learn how to taste it to ensure that you’ll know the best dish to pair it with.

Want to shop olive oil today? Give yourself a one-of-a-kind tasting experience with The Olive Oil Bar’s fine selection of balsamic vinegar, pantry collection, olive oils, and more!


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