Extra virgin olive oil displays a wide spectrum of flavours and aromas – of which fruitiness is an essential characteristic.
Fruitiness, detected in the nose, should be characteristic of green or ripe olives and can be associated with nuances of green grass, dry grass, almond, walnut, pine kernels, apple, green banana, tomato or wild berry. These delicious flavours are largely influenced by the cultivar used, the terroir and harvest maturity. Greener, fresh grassy notes are associated with green, early harvested fruit, while ripe notes are associated with late-harvested fruit.
When tasting olive oil, the tongue should perceive a measure of bitterness, which should be pleasant, not too harsh, while the absence of bitterness is associated with sweetness.
Mouthfeel will indicate sensations of density/limpidity or fattiness. Pungency or peppery, acrid notes, sensed in the cheeks and throat, usually as an aftertaste is associated with phenolics and is a desirable attribute.
Fruitiness, bitterness and pungency should all be balanced in harmony in a high-quality oil. Although a measure of personal preference is involved in oil tasting, it is important to realise that a defective oil (rancid, winey, musty, fusty, etc.) will spoil food, while a good quality EVOO will enhance the flavour of food.
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