These terms are used by tasters and follow the guidelines of the International Olive Oil Council in Madrid. The California Olive Oil Council seeks to replicate the standards set by the International Olive Oil Council. A tasting panel conducts blind evaluations of oils and makes a pass/fail determination based on the presence or absence of major defects.
Perception of Positive Olive Oil Attributes
• Fruity – ripe or green
• Bitter – transient in the middle palate due to some greenness
• Pungent – a biting sensation in the whole mouth and later the throat (often delayed), characteristic of olives picked early in the season
Perception of Defects
• Fusty – from olives stored in piles that have undergone fermentation
• Musty – from fungi and yeasts in olives stored in humid conditions
• Winey-Vinegary-Acid Sour – due to formation of excessive amounts of acetic acid, ethyl acetate and ethanol from fermentation in the olives
• Muddy Sediment – from prolonged contact with sediment in storage containers
• Metallic – from contact with metals during processing
• Rancid – from oxidation. This is the worst defect.