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Olive Oil Vocabulary

Descriptive Words Relating to the Aroma of an Oil

Fruity

  • Apple: flavor of olive oil is reminiscent of this fruit.
  • Banana: flavor of olive oil is reminiscent of this fruit.
  • Lemon: flavor of olive oil is reminiscent of its peel.
  • Melon: flavor of olive oil is reminiscent of very ripe melons.
  • Orange: flavor of olive oil is reminiscent of its peel.
  • Passion Fruit: flavor of olive oil is reminiscent of this fruit.
  • Pears: flavor of olive oil is reminiscent of cooked or fresh pears.
  • Tomato: flavor of olive oil is reminiscent of fresh tomato coulis or tomato skins.

FlowersVerdant

  • Earthy: can have unpleasant connotations but often used to convey the idea of a rustic oil.
  • Floral or Flowery: reminiscent of a bouquet of flowers.
  • Grass*: characteristic flavor of certain oils which is reminiscent of freshly mown grass.
  • Hay*: characteristic flavor of certain oils which is reminiscent of more or less dried grass.
  • Leafy: generally herbaceous.

ArtichokesVegetal

  • Artichokes: flavor of olive oil is reminiscent of this vegetable.
  • Asparagus: flavor of olive oil is reminiscent of this vegetable.
  • Avocado: flavor of olive oil is reminiscent of avocados.
  • Mushroom: flavor of olive oil is reminiscent of this vegetable; providing this is not moving into very musty flavors it is usually acceptable.

WalnutsNutty

  • Almond*: this flavor may appear in two forms: that typical of the fresh almond or that peculiar to dried, sound almonds which can be confused with incipient rancidity. A distinctive taste is perceived as an after-taste when the oil remains in contact with the tongue and palate. Associated with sweet oils which have a flat odor.
  • Walnut*: flavor of olive oil is reminiscent of this nut.
  • Hazelnut: flavor of olive oil is reminiscent of this nut.
  • Nutty*: flavor of olive oil is reminiscent of nuts.

Other Aromas, Including a Few Flights of Fancy!

Aniseed, Buttery, Car tires, Catty, Creamy, Dark chocolate, Dried flowers, Eggy, Petrol.


Words Sometimes Used to Describe the Overall Tasting Experience, Harmony and Balance

  • Aggressive: oils which have strong up-front flavors (punchy).
  • Delicate: oils which have light aromatic flavors.
  • Fragrant: similar to aromatic but perhaps more flowery.
  • Harmonious: oils which have good ratios of all organoleptic factors.
  • Mellow: oils which are soft and sweet.
  • Rich: oils which have a full rounded flavor.
  • Rounded: oils which are well balanced.
  • Rustic: oils which have hearty aromas and flavors.

Words Describing Off-Flavors Which May Find their Way into the Shop

  • Cucumber*: flavor produced when an oil is hermetically packed for too long, particularly in tin containers.
  • Fatty: refers to a greasy feeling in the mouth.
  • Flat or Smooth: flavor of oil whose organoleptic characteristics are very weak owing to the loss of their aromatic components.
  • Harsh*: characteristic sensation of certain oils which, when tasted, produce a mouthfeel reaction of astrigency.
  • Old*: characteristic flavor of oil that has been kept too long in storage containers. May also appear in oils which have been packed for excessively long periods.
  • Rancid*: characteristic flavor common to all oils and fats that have undergone a process of auto-oxidation caused by prolonged contact with air. This flavor is unpleasant and cannot be corrected.

Off-flavors Which Should Never Find their Way into the Shop

  • Brine*: flavor of oil extracted from olives which have been preservedin a saline solution.
  • Earthy*: characteristic of oil obtained from olives which have been collected with earth or mud on them and not washed. This flavor may sometimes be accompanied by a musty-humid flavor.
  • Esparto*: characteristic flavor of oil obtained from olives pressed in new esparto mats. The flavor may differ on whether or not the mats are made ofnew or dried esparto.
  • Fusty (Atrojado)*: characteristic flavor of oil obtained from olives tored in piles which have undergone an advanced stage of fermentation.
  • Greasy*: odour of oil extracted in a plant where residues of petroleum, grease or mineral oil have not been properly removed from the machinery.
  • Green leaves*: flavor of oil obtained from excessively green olives or olives that have been crushed with leaves or twigs.
  • Grubby*: characteristic flavor of oil obtained from olives which have been heavily attacked by the grubs of the olive fly.
  • Heated or Burnt*: characteristic flavor of oils caused by excessive and/or prolonged heating during processing, particularly when the paste is thermally mixed if this is done under unsuitable conditions.
  • Metallic*: flavor that is reminiscent of metal. Characteristic of oils which have been in prolonged contact under unsuitable conditions with foodstuffs or metallic surfaces during crushing, mixing, pressing or storage.
  • Muddy sediment*: characteristic flavor of oil recovered from the decanted sediment of vats and underground tanks.
  • Mustiness-Humidity*: characteristic flavor of oil obtained from fruit in which large numbers of fungi and yeast have developed, as a result of being stored in piles in humid conditions for several days.
  • Pomace*: characteristic flavor that is reminscent of the flavor of olive pomace.
  • Pressing mat*: flavor of oil obtained from olives that have been pressed in dirty pressing mats in which fermented residues have been left.
  • Rough*: characteristic perception in certain oils which, when tasted, produce a thick, pasty mouthfeel sensation.
  • Soapy*: flavor producing an olfactory gustatory sensation reminiscent of that produced by green soap.
  • Vegetable water*: characteristic flavor acquired by oil as a result of poor decantation and prolonged contact with vegetable water.
  • Winey-Vinegary*: characteristic flavor of certain oils reminiscent of wine and vinegar.

* = Words which are on the EC approved list together with their official definitions