The Flavors of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Countless factors influence the flavors in extra virgin olive oils.Understanding the basics can lead to satisfying results.

Along with geography, dozens of other variables impact the flavor expression of an extra virgin olive oil; climate, proximity to other plants, farming techniques, processing technologies and storage facilities all affect flavor.

Understanding EVOO flavors

While anyone can learn to taste and appreciate extra virgin olive oils and all the potential flavors, they are also evaluated by professional tasters, usually organized in panels.

Their work is traditionally coordinated by a panel leader who summarizes the results of the tastings and ultimately confirms the category of the olive oil in question and whether or not it deserves to be called extra virgin.

Two of the most relevant characteristics of high-quality extra virgin olive oil are the presence and intensity of bitterness and pungency, which indicate the presence of phenolic compounds.

"Our first mission is to record the identity card of the extra virgin olive oil, confirm it is free of defects, evaluate the presence of fruity notes, which we can also describe as being green or ripe, or for their intensity, and evaluate the presence of bitterness and spiciness," said Simona Cognoli, founder of Oleonauta and a professional olive oil taster.

Aroma and taste

All consumers can follow the steps of olive oil tasters and chefs to learn how to taste and compare extra virgin olive oils, discover their scents and experiment with their use as a raw dressing or cooking ingredient.

Given the growing bank of knowledge surrounding the health benefits of polyphenols, many producers now focus on crafting EVOOs with the highest possible quantity of these organic compounds.

There’s more to taste than flavor