vovabolario sensoriale
The Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is, like wine, among the major national gastronomic excellences. It is not a simple condiment, but a fundamental element of Italian cuisine. Precisely for this reason, it is very important to know how to recognize an oil both in order not to fall into the counterfeits and imitations that unfortunately dot the sector, and to use it in the most suitable way to enhance the taste of the dishes to which we combine it.
The color of the oil can vary, depending on the type (or cultivar) from light straw yellow to golden, from yellow green to emerald green, the latter gradation undoubtedly more inviting to the eye, but which nothing adds, however, to the quality.
The particular shape of the tasting glass is mainly due to the need to enclose the glass in the palm of the hand to heat the oil and bring it to about 28 ° C, the optimal temperature for tasting, as it allows the evaporation of some volatile substances ( polyphenols) which then allow to capture the identifying aromas of the quality and / or type of the cultivar. The visual analysis, as mentioned, is not a fundamental element for ascertaining the goodness and / or quality of the product.
It is only relevant for the recognition of the processing characteristics (filtering or not) and the identification of any oil defects. Turbidity, the presence of filaments or orange or brownish reflections are in fact indicative of likely alterations or imperfections such as oxidation, sludge, heating, rancid, etc ..; defects which must in any case be confirmed by the subsequent olfactory analysis.
The olfactory analysis is, as for wine, a passage of fundamental importance. In fact, as already mentioned, it is through the olfactory examination that it is possible to identify any defects in the oil and to define its organoleptic profile.
The gustatory analysis completes the picture of the organoleptic analysis of the oil. It is the most fascinating phase of checking the value of the oil. The mouth, after the nose, becomes a real laboratory of analysis, able to distinguish the basic flavors, classify them in their own families (Fruity, Floral, Herbal, Vegetable, Balsamic, Spicy, etc.) and evaluate them individually based on their presence and intensity, also identifying their specific aroma (tomato leaf, cut grass, almond, apple, banana, pine nut, hazelnut, etc.).

How to taste it

prima fase degustazione olio extra vergine stilla


Pour the oil in a glass preferably dark in color so as not to influence the taster regarding the color.
Hand Heat

Hand Heat

Heat the glass with the palm of your hand (clean and without having used perfumes): the ideal temperature to enhance the strengths and weaknesses of the oil is around 28°.


Smelling alternating short but deep inspirations to incorporate all the sensations that the fruity of the oil gives off.


Taste a small amount of the oil by holding it between the lower lip and the tightened teeth.


Gently inhale and then harder to vaporize the oil throughout the oral cavity.


Exhale the air from the nose to allow the particles of atomized oil to hit the olfactory membrane.

Sensory vocabulary

vovabolario sensoriale

Positive attributes

Other ripe fruit: aroma reminiscent of fruit other than drupe, for example banana, tropical fruit etc ... (see ripe fruit and green fruit)
Bitter: characteristic flavor of the oil obtained from green or veraison olives.
It has different intensity.
Artichoke: grateful flavor, very fresh and clean, reminiscent of certain nuances of the raw tender artichoke. The "artichoke", although not included in the classic qualities, is a refinement.
Sweet: pleasant, slightly aromatic, uniform taste of the oil, in which the bitter, astringent and spicy attributes do not stand out. On the palate it gives a sweet sensation. On the nose it does not give particular sensations; its color is almost always on gold; the paste is thick. It can have a precious almond aftertaste.
Ripe fruity: aroma of olive oil obtained from ripe fruits generally with a muffled smell and sweetish taste.
Green fruity: aroma that recalls the smell and taste of the healthy fruit, fresh and picked at the optimal point of ripeness. And the stabilized set of the most precious essences.
Only if these essences last over time stabilized, in a total and lasting way, an oil can be called fruity. The difficulty lies in distinguishing a simple "fresh" oil from a "fruity" one. In fact, a recently produced oil always has a "fresh" which borders on the "fruity", which however lasts the space of a morning. It is a remarkable merit.
Smooth: aroma of olive oil with very faint organoleptic characteristics due to the loss of aromatic components. It is not a quality but a finding of lack of defects and qualities.
Almond: this flavor can manifest itself in two ways: the typical one of fresh almond, or that of dry and healthy almond, which can be confused with a rancid incipient. It is appreciated as an aftertaste when the oil remains in contact with the tongue and palate. It is associated with sweet oils and with a muffled smell.

Apple: aroma of olive oil that recalls this fruit.
Pasty: denotes oil that produces a strong kneading effect on the tongue.
Spicy: sensation of lively personality, perceived as an aftertaste.

Rotondo: typical oil derived from ripe olives, pasty body, golden in color, very graceful, without excessive aromatic tips. On the olfactory examination it is hardly noticeable, but on the palate it reveals completeness, amiability and a complete taste satisfaction.

Grass green: characteristic aroma reminiscent of freshly cut grass.
Leaf green: characteristic aroma reminiscent of the bitter fragrance of the leaf.

Negative attributes

Vegetation water: characteristic flavor acquired from the oil due to bad settling and prolonged contact with the vegetation waters.
Agro / Acetite: characteristic aroma of some oils reminiscent of that of wine or vinegar. It is basically due to the formation of acetic acid, ethyl acetate and ethanol, in quantities greater than normal, in the aroma of olive oil.
Sour: characteristic sensation of some oils which, upon tasting, produce an oral - tactile astringency reaction.
Cucumber: flavor that is produced in oil during excessively prolonged hermetic bottling, particularly in cans.
Cooked: characteristic aroma of the oil due to excessive and / or prolonged heating during obtaining, especially during thermo-kneading, if it occurs in unsuitable conditions.
Hay: characteristic flavor of some oils reminiscent of more or less dry grass.
Fiscolo: aroma of the oil obtained from olives pressed in dirty stains of fermented residues. However, in recent years with the spread of continuous and modern extraction methods this defect is disappearing.
Cold: denotes oil obtained from olives which in a very cold winter went freezing. Examining with the sense of smell, one does not feel anything particular: on the palate the tail is very close to the dry, but the head and the body have above all, when the oil is produced recently, an unpleasant soft and languishing taste. This soft languid taste with the passage of time is attenuated, but is replaced by the persistent and very pronounced "dry".
Metallic: flavor reminiscent of metal. It is characteristic of the oil maintained for a long time in contact with food or metal surfaces, in unsuitable conditions, during the grinding, kneading, pressure or storage processes.
Sludge: typical of the oil which has remained in contact with the impurities for a long time and is released by settling it: the "Amurca" of the Latins, today "scum".
Mold / humidity: characteristic taste of the oil obtained from fruits in which abundant mushrooms and yeasts have developed to have been stored for many days, in humid environments.
characteristic flavor common to all oils and fats that have suffered from an auto-oxidative process due to their prolonged contact with the air. This flavor is unpleasant and irreversible.
Reheating: characteristic aroma of the oil obtained from massed olives that have suffered an advanced degree of fermentation. At the olfactory examination there is a slight fortore which then materializes at the oral examination.
This fortitude borders on the rancid despite not having all its characteristics and not reaching intensity. as a defect it cannot be considered primary.
Brine: flavor of oil extracted from olives preserved in saline solutions.
Dry / wood: characteristic flavor of an oil obtained through too long milling of low-pulp olives and a subsequent too high pressure. The oral exam, in addition to a dry and poor round sensation, is also accompanied by a "wood" sensation.
Tired / old: characteristic flavor of oil when too much time is left in storage containers. It can also be in bottled oils for an excessively long period.

Over time, vegetable oils degrade and deplete, losing their initial color, aroma, fruit and fullness of the body.
Earth: characteristic flavor of the oil obtained from olives harvested with earth or muddy and unwashed. In some cases this flavor can manifest itself together with that of mold - humidity.
Worm (taste and smell): characteristic flavor of the oil obtained from olive drupes altered by the larvae of the oil fly, through processes of neurosis, rotting and heating. The oil fly "Dacus oleae" acts in particular years (humid and hot summers, followed by equally humid and hot autumns), infesting olive groves.
The oil produced is of a soft, slightly putrid taste, with a background of heating grease, usually accompanied by a rather accentuated acidity. It is a serious flaw.