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What do Olive Oil Consumers Want Their Olive Oil to Taste Like?

While olive oil tastings are becoming more available for consumers, there are not many opportunities to taste olive oil. Olive oil tastings are similar to wine tastings. The typical olive oil tasting begins with a very small amount of olive oil placed in a petite-size plastic cup. The taster warms the cup in their hand by covering the top with their right hand and moving the cup in a circular motion. This slightly warms the olive oil and releases the aroma.

Sensory scientists Claudia Delgado and Jean-Xavier Guinard at the UC Davis Olive Center completed a research study of consumer preference of extra virgin olive oils. Delgado and Guinard had 110 participants and used 22 extra virgin olive oils. Fifty percent of the olive oils were from California and the rest were imported.

The results of the study included what olive oil experts believe are quality attributes of extra virgin olive oil. What they believe is not what many consumers think is a good olive oil. The experts look for oils that are defect free, pungent and bitter with some fruit. On the other hand the majority of consumers in the study, looked for olive oils that have nutty, green tea, butter or green fruit nuances. Forty plus percent of the consumers also preferred a defect of rancidity.

In addition, the study looked at the reasons that motivate consumers to use olive oil. Reasons included recipes, health, bread dipping and flavor.

To discover more about this research study, visit the UC Davis Oliver Center website.

Read about olive oil production and tasting in Tuscany. article

What attributes do you look for when using extra virgin olive oil?

Cheers! Kathy

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