Fustini's Oils and Vinegars

Speaking EVOO: 18 Oil Words to Know

In the world of olive oil, there are some great words you can use to describe your experience. While you can probably guess what words like “bitterness” and “flavor” mean, there are others that aren’t as well known, but very helpful in describing Extra Virgin Olive Oil, EVOO.

Understanding the vocab of extra virgin olive oil can is helpful for a variety of reasons. Knowing the flavor profile terms of an oil can help you describe what kinds of oil you enjoy tasting and using in all your dishes. Learning the qualifications of what makes an EVOO an EVOO helps you determine which oils are actually extra virgin and which are fake oils. And, who knows, you might even impress some of your friends with your EVOO lingo.

To get you started on your vocab list, we’ve shared 18 words related to the tasting, benefits and overall experience of extra virgin olive oil.

1. Acidity

Yes, olive oil can be acidic. The acidity level in an oil refers to the amount of free fatty acids. This is measured by the free oleic acid content. Extra virgin olive oil must have an acidic level less than 1%.

2. Aroma

As you sample an EVOO, you’ll want to be sure to smell the oil first. By smelling, you take in the aroma of the oil and you’re more easily able to identify the various flavors you sense in the oil.

3. Balance

In tasting EVOO, balance refers to the harmony of the various flavor profiles in an oil. When the fruitiness, bitterness and pungency are all balanced, that can make the perfect oil.

4. Bitterness

One of the flavor characteristics you may experience as you taste an oil, bitterness refers to the harsh and dull sting you feel on your tongue.

5. Centrifuge

In the production of olive oil, the centrifuge separates the oil of the olive from the water and other olive residue.

6. Complexity

One of the fun things about EVOO is that there is rarely just one flavor going on while you taste. The flavor of EVOO has complexity, meaning it contains a combination of flavors that are either in harmony or unbalanced.

7. Floral

Word to describe an oil that has the aroma of flowers or perfume.

8. Free Fatty Acids (FFA)

On a chemical level, olive oil is made out of triglycerides, which are one glycerol molecule attached to three fatty acid chains. When the fatty acid chains break off the glycerol molecule due to bruised fruit or long storage times, they become free fatty acids (FFA). In an oil, the higher the FFA level, the more acidity, which is a lower quality oil.

9. Fusty

No, not “fustinify”. This term refers to a by-product of fermentation. This is used in making table olives, which are fermented, not fresh like oil olives.

10. Hydroxytyrosal antioxidant

Aside from a mouthful to say, this is a property in EVOO that takes care of your skin that helps to prevent aging and heals abrasions.

11. Oleocanthal

This refers to the anti-inflammatory properties found in EVOO that can improve your health.

12. Peroxides

When olive oil oxidizes, it creates peroxides. More oxygen means more peroxides, which causes the oil to go rancid.

13. Phenolic compounds

EVOO has at least 30 phenolic compounds. Such compounds are great for your health and can help improve metabolism.

14. Polyphenols

When thinking about the health benefits of EVOO, polyphenols are of the most important. These are antioxidants that help to lower blood pressure by clearing arteries. The taste of these polyphenols are bitter.

15. Pungency

When you think of pungent, you may think of a very strong flavor. Pungency in an oil refers to the mild irritation or burn in your throat. In addition to sweet, salty, sour and bitter, pungent is another flavor you can experience when tasting an oil.

16. Rancid

Rancid is a description for when oil goes bad. When the oil breaks down, it gives off stale flavors that ruin the quality of the oil.

17. Ripeness

Refers to the status of the fruit when it is harvest. The ripeness of an olive can range from bright green and hard to soft, fleshy black. The ripeness of the fruit has strong correlations to the quality of the oil that’s made from it.

18. Robust

A word to describe the flavor of the oil. It refers to a full-bodied or strong flavor that pairs well with other strong flavors.

Put Your Vocab Knowledge to the Test

Now that you know how to speak “EVOO”, why not come in and try out your vocabulary. At Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars, we’d be happy to walk you through tasting and finding an EVOO that matches the flavor you’re looking for. Stop in today to find your next robust oil.



Stay Connected

Sign up now for our email newsletter!

Missed a Fustini's Newsletter?

Click here for our newsletter archive.

Enjoy at Local Restaurants

Find Fustini's here and see how our restaurant partners are integrating our oils & vinegars into the menu and on to the table.

Learn More