Tasting Guide

 

One way to enjoy chocolate is to bite directly into a bar and devour it with relish. This guide is designed to take you to the other extreme—to focus on chocolate with all of your senses and savor it slowly. It is a simple way to develop your palate and to help you identify and describe the flavors and sensations that you are tasting in a particular chocolate.

Steps to Tasting Chocolate

Anticipate It is a most delicious moment, that of unwrapping a chocolate bar—enjoy the anticipation.

Appreciate Take a moment to appreciate the appearance and color of the chocolate. The surface should have an attractive shine and a tight, fine grain. Chocolate puts forth a lovely, nuanced brown color—the hue depends on aspects such as cacao origin, variety, and processing techniques.

Listen Break off a piece of chocolate and listen to the sound. It should have a clean, bright snap—this indicates of a well-made, well-tempered chocolate with a high percentage of cacao.

Smell Breathe in deeply as you smell the freshly broken piece of chocolate. At this point, the aromas may be faint, just beginning to tantalize your taste buds. This is because most of the flavor components are carried within the cacao butter,  unfolding only as the chocolate melts.

Taste Place the piece of chocolate on your tongue. Hold it there for a few seconds. Slowly, slowly let it melt. You can push it gently against the roof of your mouth to open the flavors. Chocolate is sensed largely by aroma—its only when the flavor hits the back of your throat and nose that it may be fully expressed. A slow melt allows you to distinguish flavors as they evolve and layer over one another. What flavors do you discern? Observe the timing of their release. Although tempting, resist the urge to chew. The way the chocolate feels and melts in your mouth affects the flavor, as well as the aromas you smell as you are savoring it.

 

Tasting Notes
When tasting chocolate, note your experience from the first impression to the finish. Keep in mind the following: 

Sensations Chocolate is sensuous—it embodies a complexity and depth that transcends most other culinary pleasures. Over 500 aromatic elements make up chocolate; their unique interaction elicit the luscious feeling of chocolate we all know and love.

Close Your Eyes If desired, close your eyes such that you may concentrate more deeply on the taste.

Basic Tastes Chocolate is bitter, sweet, and sour—each aspect is integral to chocolate flavor. A slight bitter taste should be balanced by the sweetness of the sugar. A subtle note of acidity enlivens and pulls the more pronounced flavors forward.

Flavors Chocolate reveals a kaleidoscope of flavors. Hidden deep within the chocolate, just waiting to be released, the flavors are evocative of other foods and of nature. As you taste, note the flavors you encounter; observe the timing of their release and duration. 

Texture Astringency should be minimal, so as not to diminish the sensation of the mouthfeel as the chocolate melts. A full, velvety texture is important in bringing all of the components deliciously together.

Finish Enjoy the chocolate’s finish. The flavor should be pleasant and linger in your mouth after you have swallowed. It should make you want to come back for more . . . and more . . . and more.