How do you taste an olive oil?
How do you taste an olive oil?


Knowing how to properly taste olive oil can make the process of exploring different varieties and
culinary usages a more entertaining experience.


The first step in experiencing an olive oil is through its appearance. Olive oil can range in color
from pale straw to dark green. From year to year depending on a myriad of factors McEvoy
Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil can display many shades. Despite what you might think, color is
often no indication of the quality or flavor of an oil. For this reason olive oil sensory panelists
taste in dark blue glasses that mask the color.


The next step is to smell the oil. We recommend tasting in a small glass that you can easily
place your hand under. With one hand covering the top and one underneath, swirl the oil to
warm it slightly. This will release the aroma which becomes more volatile as the temperature
increases. After a minute or so, remove your top hand, bring the glass beneath your nose, and
inhale. Positive olive oil aroma is generally categorized as fruity. Our oils contain notes of
cinnamon, green olives, freshly cut grass, and green almonds.


Once you have properly smelled an olive oil, place a sip in your mouth. To experience the true
flavor of the oil, do so without any other food and make the sip about the size of a tablespoon.
This will allow the true flavor of the oil to take center stage. To maximize this relationship, open
your mouth slightly and breathe in with your tongue gently pressed against the roof of your
mouth. This slurping action will aerate the oil and further release aroma rich volatile compounds.
By breathing in and out your nose, you can intensify this experience by capturing the retronasal
The basic flavor components of extra virgin olive oil are categorized as fruity, bitter,
and pungent. An olive oil is seen as balanced if all three attributes are present in
complementary amounts. Because of the Tuscan varieties we use, McEvoy extra virgin olive
oils have strong green fruit aromas and contain notes of raw artichoke and green tea with
balanced bitterness and pungency.


Fruitiness is generally categorized as either green or ripe fruit and can conjure memories of
anything from freshly cut grass to ripe summer peaches.


Bitterness is one of the five basic tastes, along with sweet, salty, sour, and umami. Bitterness is
often associated with items such as coffee, dark chocolate, and herbal liqueurs like Campari or
Fernet. The sensation is produced from the polyphenols present in extra virgin olive oil and is
considered a positive attribute if balanced by fruity and pungent flavors.


Pungency is often experienced in the throat and can produce a spicy sensation similar to
capsicums or black pepper. Like bitterness when balanced by fruitiness, a pungent extra virgin
olive oil can add a new layer of complexity to food. The Tuscan varieties we use in McEvoy olive
oils are known for their pungent qualities and make a great addition to full flavored items like
steak or burrata.

Mouth feel

Beyond the taste of an oil, there is the physical sensation that it produces in your mouth. A fresh
oil should feel smooth and as it warms in your mouth have a thin viscosity. If an oil feels thick or
greasy in your mouth, it is often an indication of rancidity. Some oils with large amounts of
polyphenols can create a drying sensation known as astringency. This can be similar to green
tea or biting into an unripe persimmon. Small amounts of astringency are considered a positive
olive oil attribute and often come along with green fruit flavors.