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While many extra virgin olive oil bottles state “floral” or “fruity”, these seem like generic terms applied to most oils. Similarly, even those that omit the “peppery finish” description, have a pepperiness to my tongue.

However, I once tried my housemate’s dad’s olive oil grown in Portugal and it was actually floral and fruity. It also had no pepperiness whatsoever; It tasted like a well-watered Mediterranean meadow, a bouquet of freshly picked wildflowers, and dense stone fruits just harvested.

I was shocked and enamored. And I have never tasted an olive oil like that again. I have sought out Portuguese oils and oils that exclude any mention of “peppery,” but I have yet to taste again an oil like that truly floral and fruity one from so long ago :)

Here are two sub-points to my question about accurately identifing oils with specific flavor profiles:

  • Is there any consensus or regulation on the terms used to describe olive oil, or is this entirely at the manufacturer or retailer’s discretion?

  • Are there particular manufacturers, retailers, places-of-origin, or 3rd-party tasting organizations that use precise and reliable descriptions to help identify an olive oil with the flavor profile that is being sought?

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    Olive oils come from numerous places around the world, and are made with a variety olives. They are also made in different styles and qualities. The flavor profiles vary widely. Are you asking for a specific recommendation? If so, perhaps altering your question to request a producer, region, or olive variety might help.
    – moscafj
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 16:39
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    I don't see a question here. It's a yes or no answer, and will vary highly according to individual taste, what is peppery to one person may not be to another.
    – GdD
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 17:17
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    I think it's reopenable. We can definitely recommend varietals of olive oil that are "high fruit, low pepper", based on authoritative resources.
    – FuzzyChef
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 21:31
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    @FuzzyChef the criterion is not whether there are authorative sources, but whether it would be a recommendation question - "these brands are the right ones to buy, here is the list" (that would be closable) - or a more generic question whose answer is not a list of brands, but a description of how to go about finding sources of olive oil outside of a supermarket carrying a few big brands, or how to find information on the taste of potential products.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Mar 6, 2023 at 22:02
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    @milo thanks for editing, the new version looks not only answerable, but also quite interesting! Reopened and upvoted.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 18:53

3 Answers 3

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I'll speak to the first bullet. There is absolutely consensus and criteria for judging the quality and characteristics of olive oil. There is, for example, a World Olive Oil competition, which makes use of a set of criteria.

The International Olive Oil Council governs 95% of world wide olive oil production. Their standards (many documents) may give you insight into what you are looking for. They have guidelines for tasting panels, for example, that specify the criteria that you are asking about.

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I think there is an identifier, which raises the probability that the oil will be to your liking. It is the variety/cultivar of the olives used for the making of the oil. There are multiple sites describing the cultivars (Wikipedia, OliveOilTimes), but my suggestion is to first ask your housemate, what cultivar does his dad use and try to buy/taste some other oils of that cultivar. I am personally quite partial to Picual, but I like grassy flavors.

This approach has one side-effect (possibly downside): It will steer you towards more expensive olive oils which actually declare their content (and which will probably describe their taste at least a bit.

2

Olive oil is a lot like wine, in that you can predict some characteristics based on the olive variety and/or where it’s grown. But how it’s pressed (cold vs hot, if solvents are used) and how it’s stored (temperature, length of time) can also affect the flavor.

Most ‘olive oil’ sold in the United States is a blend (more like ‘apple juice’ than wines from a single variety of olive. You can occasionally find Kalamata olive oil in stores, but most stores usually don’t bother. They might have an ‘American’, ‘Italian’, ‘Spanish’, ‘Turkish’, or blends. (And beware of country names—- they often list where it was packaged and you have to look at the fine print for where it was grown.

There exist ‘olive oil stores’ that will have a larger variety, sorted more like wine varieties and will typically offer samples so you can taste for yourself which variety you prefer (and are willing to spend the money on; these places aren’t necessarily inexpensive, but some will fill/refill bottles from large dispensers so they may be able to keep costs down)

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