How to Taste

Formal extra virgin olive oil tasting process

  1. Swirl

    Begin by pouring a tablespoon of olive oil into a small glass. Cup the bottom of the glass in your hand to warm the oil; cover the top with your other hand and swirl gently to release the aromas.

  2. Smell

    Bring the glass to your nose and smell the oil. Take a note of the aromas.

  3. Slurp

    Next, take a slurp. As you do so, touch your tongue to the back of your top teeth and inhale. This spreads the oil in your mouth and helps release the flavors of the olive oil.

  4. Swallow

    Finally, swallow the oil and take note of the flavors you experience.

Source: from Nancy Ash, Strictly Olive Oil

A mild stinging in your throat is a good thing and demonstrates that the oil is rich in antioxidants called polyphenols.
Bitterness at the back of your tongue is also a good thing and is a sign that what you are tasting is indeed an extra virgin olive oil.

Tasting wheel

How to describe what you’re tasting

High-quality extra virgin olive oil should taste like fruit and fresh herbs, ranging from mild to complex and diverse, whereas bad oil tastes like oil. The wheel below will help you build a vocabulary with which to describe extra virgin olive oil:


a chart depicting quality of extra virgin olive oil

© Maia Hirschbein (adapted from Sue Langstaff and Richard Gawel)