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 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 McEvoyRanch Extra Virgin Olive Oil can display many shades. Despite what you might think, color is often no indication of the quality or flavor of oil. For this reason, olive oil sensory panelists taste 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. A 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 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 of your nose, you can intensify this experience by capturing the retronasal sensation.


The basic flavor components of extra virgin olive oil are categorized as fruity, bitter, and pungent. Olive oil is seen as balanced if all three attributes are present in complementary amounts. Because of the Tuscan varieties we use, McEvoy Ranch 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 orFernet. 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 oil olive, there is the physical sensation that it produces in your mouth. Fresh olive 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.