Did you know that there's a specific way to taste chocolate to bring out its best flavour? Whether you're planning a chocolate tasting party or simply enjoying a single bar, you can absolutely get more out of the experience by tasting it properly.
When tasting chocolate, relax and prepare to focus deeply on the sensory adventure you're about to experience. Cleanse your palate bread or water, put away any flavoured drinks (enjoy that wine afterwards!), and clear away any distractions. Taste the chocolate au naturel.
Open your bar. Look at the surface of the chocolate, paying attention to the maker's molding and tempering. The bar should have a radiant sheen. Note the colour: chocolate comes in a gradient of brown hues, from deep red to almost black.
Smell the bar. Note if the aroma is fruity, like wine, or perhaps has deeper earthy or nutty notes. Aroma is an important component of flavour and is your first introduction to what you'll be tasting.
Break the chocolate into small pieces, about the size of your fingernail, but don't get too hung up on making them super precise! While you're breaking the chocolate, listen for its "snap". Is the sound crisp or dull?
Finally, it's time to taste. Place a piece of chocolate on your tongue and press it against the roof of your mouth. Slowly move it around and let your body heat gently melt the chocolate. Resist the urge to chew. Being patient pays off, because the chocolate's flavour profile should unfold as it melts, evolving from the initial taste through the middle and end of the melt. You might be surprised at the journey it takes you on.
Breathe normally as the bar melts, and concentrate on the sensations you feel and the taste of the chocolate as it flows over your palate. Does it feel smooth or grainy? Does it seem sweet, astringent, or balanced? Can you taste elements of fruit? How about herbs, berries, spices, toast, earth, tobacco, vanilla, coffee, or nuts?
After several minutes, the chocolate should be mostly dissolved. Note any residual flavours and textures, and how they contribute to your overall enjoyment of the bar. Repeat this process with each successive bar, discussing them freely as you go. Hopefully you have enough chocolate left on your plates to repeat the tasting–it's often more revealing to taste a bar a second time, after you've gone through the line-up once.
A chocolate tasting is a great way to end a meal, especially when you've got friends around. Its a perfect post-dinner conversation piece. Spend some time comparing tasting notes and discussing bars together. You may be surprised at what you discover when the discussion gets going.
We make up “party packs” to order at The Chocolate Project and would be happy to select a range of bars to suit your tastes and budget. If you would prefer, we are available to lead you through a chocolate lesson and tasting. Contact us for details and pricing options.