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Comment déguster une huile d'olive vierge extra

How to taste test extra virgin olive oil

Have you recently purchased an extra virgin olive oil? Are you wondering, what qualifies an olive oil as "extra virgin"? With all the accusations of food fraud and counterfeiting, how can you be sure that your oil is really extra virgin? Let us give you some tips on how to taste your oils and find the qualities and defects in them. 


Take a wine glass and fill it with a few milliliters of oil.
Put your hand on the bottom of the glass and warm the glass by taking it in your palm. After a few moments, bring your nose close to the glass and smell the aromas that emerge. Feel free to smell the oil several times to find all the smells that are released.   

Then, sip a bit of oil into your mouth. Turn the oil in your mouth so that it touches the different parts of your tongue and palate to bring forth additional sensations. To better detect the different flavours, you can also suck in some air which liberates fragrances further. Take a few moments to detect the different aromas that emerge. Repeat as needed.


To be recognised as extra virgin, an olive oil must, according to the International Olive Oil Council, have no defects in aroma or flavour and a certain fruity taste reminiscent of the olive fruit. 

When you smell your extra virgin olive oil, you should be able to smell the fruitiness of the green or black olive and possibly other smells such as fresh grass, freshly cut field, apple, banana, fresh almond, artichoke or tomato stem. All these smells can be explained by the type of olive and the type of fruit and vegetables that grow near the olive trees. 

To the taste, you should find a good fresh green taste, more or less strong depending on the intensity of your oil and the ripeness of the fruit when harvested. You will also taste bitterness on the sides of your tongue and perhaps even a spiciness in the throat. 


Some oils will present certain unwanted aromas and flavours. Technically, when at least one of them is present, the oil should be automatically downgraded from its status as extra virgin. So here are the defects that you will sometimes find in olive oils.

Rancid: The oil has a taste of fat that is almost neutral or tasteless, or of wax crayons or playdough. This oil has been oxidized due to too much exposure to air or significant changes in temperature that have accelerated its degradation.

Winey - Vinegary: Do you detect an unpleasant odour/taste of solvent, vinegar, nail polish or even acetone? These reveal the presence of olives that have been stored too long before being pressed. The defects are the result of fermentation.

Fusty: Does the oil smell or taste of tapenade, very ripe olives or even of decomposing olives? The olives used in that oil may have been stored prior to extraction while they were already fermentating.

Musty: Do you detect a smell or taste of moist soil, mud or humidity? These are defects found in oils whose olives were attacked by mold or yeast during storage, or whose olives were picked up off the ground instead of the recommended nets.


If you realise that one of your olive oils at home is not extra virgin, do not worry, it probably won't have any adverse effects on your health. You've certainly and needlessly paid more for the product than it was worth, though, since you've now identified that it is not really extra virgin. Let's not forget that an olive oil is a flavour enhancer, so its flavours and fragrances will transfer to your dish. So feel free to change it for the sake of your taste buds.

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