Considered sacred since before Biblical times, the olive tree remains treasured. The unique flavor of its fruit is surprisingly versatile. It pairs amicably with sweet flavors (oranges, dates, tomatoes, caramelized onions, fennel), salty foods (capers, feta cheese, anchovies, cured meats), and all kinds of nuts, dairy and fresh herbs. It can provide a punchy blast of contrasting flavor, or be the centerpiece of dishes like tapenade, muffuletta or puttanesca.\r\n\r\nGreen and black olives are the same fruit. Except for a few outliers, a green olive is simply an unripe black olive. All are bitter and inedible when picked, so they\u2019re cured and fermented using brine, salt and/or lye. Like with wine, when you eat an olive, you\u2019re tasting both the fruit and how it was handled.\r\nFun Facts About Olives\r\n\r\n \tThe average olive tree\u2019s lifespan is between 300 and 600 years. Today, some fruit-producing olive trees are more than 2,000 years old and still going strong.\r\n \tOlives, like wine grapes, thrive in a wide range of soil conditions, which accounts in part for their complexity.\r\n \tAn olive branch appears on the flags of five U.S. states, several countries and the United\u00a0Nations, where it symbolizes peace.\r\n \tJasmine and lilac are in same biological family as olives, Oleaceae.\r\n \tSpain produces nearly half of the world\u2019s olive oil. Italy is the next largest producer.\r\n\r\n\r\nPair It\r\n\u201cI like low-alcohol, high-acid wines with green or black olives,\u201d says Joe Campanale, the wine director and partner at Celestine and owner of Fausto in Brooklyn, New York. \u201cThe high acidity cuts through the fat of the olive and stands up to the olive\u2019s acidity. Even better if it\u2019s a coastal wine that has some of its own natural saltiness. Wines from Santorini, Corsica, Liguria and coastal Croatia come to mind.\u201d\r\n\r\nMany wines that exhibit olive notes, like Sagrantino, Syrah from C\u00f4te-R\u00f4tie and some Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, are best reserved for rich, cooked dishes like pastas and braises, says Campanale.