Short dictionary of terms most frequently used
Bitter – Flavor typical of certain varieties (Moraiolo, Tortiglione) and of oils made from olives that are still green. The degree of intensity may vary, affecting the agreeability of the taste, but it remains a quality factor because it attests to the polyphenolic richness of the product.
Artichoke – Clear and characteristic taste, similar to that of young artichokes; it is found in numerous varieties and, above all, in oil that has just been pressed.
Sweet – This indicates the degree of pleasantness to the taste and remains constant on the full body, helping to balance the flavor. The varietal origin is unmistakable (Taggiasca, Dolce Agogia, Itrana) but much depends also on the ripening of the fruit.
Grassy – A marked gustatory-olfactory sensation that recalls the fragrance of newly cut grass, it is one of the quality aspects of many extra virgin olive oils, so much so that it is actually one of the key elements in tasting.
Fruity – Flavor and fragrance typical of the drupe, that denotes the character of the oil depending on its intensity and diversity. Ripe, from olives that are probably less green, giving a softer and more subtle structure; Green, from young fruit, expressing greater dynamism and depth.
Nuts – Reminiscent of the aroma of certain shelled nuts (pine nuts, almonds). It is important for this fragrance to linger, well-balanced with the other aromatic sensations, enriching the complexity and subtlety of the oil.
Floral – Sensation with great variability that can contribute much to the distinctiveness of the oil; from white to wild flowers, from broom to lily of the valley, to blooming Mediterranean maquis.
Leaf – Sensation which recalls the aroma of olive or bay leaves, which is reminiscent of bitterness but which enters into harmony with the expressive richness of the oil, without becoming too sharp.
Apple – One of the most frequent and distinctive sensations, such as to recall different varieties (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, White), it is experienced first and foremost in mild, fresh oils.
Spicy – Sometimes already noticeable as an olfactory sensation, it is perceptible during tasting with pungent notes of varying intensity that stimulate the taste buds of the mouth. This derives from the use of very young olives and certain specific varieties (Coratina, Ravece, Canino), always in harmony with the other expressive components, highlighting the polyphenolic qualities of the oil.
Tomato (green/leaf) – Scent typical of certain varieties that is reminiscent of the unripe tomato or of its leaves, giving the oil a more distinctive fragrance and taste with vegetal notes.
text edited by Stefano Asaro