Extra Virgin Olive Oil is categorised into 3 different styles:

  1. Delicate/Mild has light flavours and usually harvested later in the ripening phase.  Oils are usually smooth, can be buttery and have a small amount of fruit on the nose.  Pairs well with seafood or baking where an oompf of flavour is not needed.
  2. Medium/Fruity are oils that can be harvested at an earlier ripening period than delicate oils, have a prominent fruity style aroma on the nose.  Some pungency can be experienced but not at the intensity of a Robust EVOO.  Bitterness, fruitiness and pungency are well balanced in these oils and are popular with many consumers.  Perfect for pairing with deserts or sweet foods, vegetables, salads, dipping or finishing.
  3. Robust/Bold is the one many connoisseurs will fight each other for!  Well maybe not but oils of this intensity are usually harvested at the very early stages of harvest so many of these oils can be almost fluro green in colour (but colour has nothing to do with quality but looks nice on the plate).  Robust oils have pungency, prominent pepper and balanced bitterness, there is also alot of aroma on the nose.

 

In the Olive Industry, we are lucky to have the expertise of well respected, Dr Richard Gawel, who is an International Sensory Scientist here is the scientific explanation from one of his papers:

“The degree of bitterness and pungency of a virgin olive oil largely defines its style, and therefore how it is most appropriately used by consumers. In order to assess how Australian olive oil producers interpret the style of their oils, 920 Australian virgin olive oils were classified by their producers as either being mild, medium or robust in style. Although in general, the classifications by producers were associated with the oils’ total phenolic concentration, significant variability in phenolic concentration within each style category was observed. The perceived styles of a subset of these oils were further assessed by panels of expert tasters. The expert panels were more discriminating when assigning oils to style categories based on total phenolic levels. The producers and the expert panels were in moderate agreement with respect to oil style, with the interpretation of what constitutes a mild oil being the most contentious.”

 

Read the full paper here:  The relationship between total phenolic concentration and the perceived style of extra virgin olive oil

KEYWORDS: olive oil style, phenolics, taster agreement”