How to Taste Olive Oil Like an Expert

At Golden Olive Oils, dedicated to the sampling of olive oils from the world's best producers, to our Golden Isles Olive Oil Boutiques, where we invite you to taste any oil that is available on our shelves, we've created this legend to guide your sensorial experience. It is a resource both for the olive oil enthusiast, who enjoys preferred taste profiles much like he or she may enjoy a favorite Bourdeaux,

 to a newcomer arriving at Golden Isles Olive Oil for the very first time. It’s to be used as a visual tool, an aid to break-down the complexities of aromas, finishes and characteristics of tasting olive oils, much like the intricacies of tasting a good wine. We share our knowledge with the hopes of sharpening your palate and making your olive oil selection process that much easier.


The first step in learning how to taste olive oil is to understand how our senses work. Perception of flavor relies on both our senses of taste and smell. The ability to taste is actually quite limited; receptors on our tongue can only discern sweet, salt, sour, bitter and umami. All other information that we think of as flavor is actually perceived by smelling food through the back of our nostrils (retro-nasally) while it’s in our mouths. Think about how little flavor we perceive when we have a cold - this is because we cannot smell food retro-nasally when we have stuffed up noses.


Golden Isles Olive Oil offers a palate rich in aromas, flavors and tastes. Some like it soft, others fruity, bitter, or sharp, round or fiery, reflective of each terroir and its producer Golden Isles Olive Oil believes that all qualified good tasting olive oils fall into 1 of 2 taste profiles.


Grassy: (oils) tend to be characterized by vegetal notes like fresh grass, artichoke, tomato leaves or green apple.


Floral: (oils) leave a sweet, velvety impression of lightness, reminiscent of almond, milky, but also blended with fruity notes of citrus, fruit, pear and hazelnut.


Red or White?: When compared to the universe of the vine, a ‘grassy’ oil reacts like a young wine, aromatic, lively and full of warmth, whereas a ‘floral’ develops along the lines of round wines, silky and tender. In simpler terms, a grassy oil is more like a red wine whereas a floral oil is more like a white wine.


Worldwide there are over 1,000+ varieties of olives grown, resulting in a wide range of flavor possibilities. We've extracted the following key to exemplify the most prevalent notes that underlie the characteristic profile and add distinction to each oil in the Golden Isles Olive Oil assortment.

  • ALMOND: reminiscent of a toasted or bitter almond, nutty, fresh not oxidized

  • ARTICHOKE: reminiscent of fresh artichoke, a green flavor

  • ASPARAGUS: reminiscent of fresh asparagus, expressive yet soft

  • BANANA: ripe or unripe banana

  • BUTTER: warm notes of butter 

  • CUCUMBER: refreshing, watery, with a slightly bitter aftertaste

  • CRÈME FRAICHE: fresh cream and slightly sour

  • DRIED HERBS: Light and more delicate herbs taste

  • ENDIVE: has a slightly bitter flavor

  • FRESH CUT GRASS: aromas of freshly cut grass prevail

  • FRUITY: refers to the aroma of fresh olive fruit, which is perceived through the nostrils and retro-nasally when the oil is in one's mouth

  • GARRIGUE: notes of more pungent, floral fragrances

  • GREEN APPLE: green skinned granny smith with a tart taste

  • GREEN PEPPER: mildly sweet flavor

  • GREEN TOMATO: bright, sour-sweet flavor

  • HAZELNUT: amazingly broad, from smoky and toasty all the way to fruity

  • MELON: fragrance of a ripe melon

  • OLIVE TREE / LEAF: light tasting

  • PEAR: crisp, semi sweet taste

  • PINEAPPLE: very sweet, juicy and tropical

  • PINE NUTS: mildly sweet, nutty flavor with a hint of pine

  • TOMATO: tomato or like the leaf of a tomato

  • Olive Tree Flower: Subtle feathery notes of tiny flowers

  • Dried Grass: Hints of dried grass