The Three Major Attributes: Fruity, Peppery and Bitter
These sensations are clues that you have a quality, fresh oil on your hands.
Fruity: Through smelling, and in your mouth via retro-nasal perception, you may notice aromas of fresh-cut grass, herbs, tropical fruits, artichokes, green olives—these fresh scents are all characteristic of fruitiness, a sign your oil was produced with unspoiled olives. (And, yum!)
Bitter: Bitterness is detected on the back of the tongue. In big doses, bitterness is a sign of poison, but a little bitterness makes food interesting and wonderful—think dark chocolate and coffee. Bitterness is a key component of an olive oil’s balance of flavors, and a sign of abundant super-healthy antioxidants. Oil made from riper fruit will have much less bitterness, while oil made from greener fruit tends to be quite bitter.
Pungent: That fiery feeling in the back of your throat is called pungency. The peppery sensation is a sign of the olive oil’s freshness.
More is not necessarily better. For example, Gaea Kalamata D.O.P. is more pungent than the fruitier Gaea Sitia D.O.P.—they’re both beautiful, award-winning oils and perfect for different applications (more on that in a future blog post!). There’s a wonderful, vast world of olive oil flavors and sensations out there to explore.