about chocolate tasting
Quality chocolate contains complex and intriguing flavors not typically associated with chocolate: berries, citrus, coffee, caramel, floral, spice, and others. Some flavors come and go quickly while others may linger. These flavors originate from unique and complex cocoa varieties, origins, growing conditions, and the chocolate manufacturing processes.
Taste is individual. You will probably experience flavors differently than others. Above all, discover what you like.
how to taste chocolate
A few suggestions to enhance your chocolate tasting experience:
Tasting chocolate is different than eating chocolate candy. Enjoy a favorite candy bar anytime. Save fine chocolate tasting for times when you can enjoy the experience.
Avoid strong food or drink an hour prior to tasting. Your palate can be saturated by other flavors causing you to miss subtleties of fine chocolates.
Observe - chocolate should be smooth and shiny. Break off a small piece, there should be a discernable snap. These are indicators that the chocolate was properly tempered.
Smell- taste is ninety percent smell. Chocolate in your hand will begin to melt and produce an aroma. Do you sense anything specific? Make note of your impressions.
Taste - let it melt on your tongue, do not chew. As it melts and reaches different flavor centers on your tongue you may sense different flavors come and go. Was there a quick sensation when you put the sample in your mouth or did the flavor take time to develop (fast vs. slow start). What did you taste? Did the flavor change as the piece melted or stay constant? Did any new sensations emerge as the piece finished melting (a unique finish)? Once the piece was gone did the flavor leave quickly or linger for a time (quick vs. long finish).
when tasting multiple chocolates
Select no more than five or six chocolates to taste in one session to avoid saturating your palate. Selecting a supermarket grade chocolate as one of your samples can be illustrative in identifying contrasts between fine and average chocolates.
For first time tasters, try selecting chocolates with similar attributes (such as cocoa percent or origin) from different manufacturers. Results will be noteworthy.
Use water (room temperature) and plain crackers, carrot sticks, etc. between samples to cleanse your palate.
Note your impressions for each chocolate and rank them in order of personal preference to help identify characteristics you prefer.
describing your chocolate experience
It can be challenging describing your tasting experience in terms other than personal preference. Try to find associations with the world around you; ask yourself - what does this remind me of?
These descriptions below are common terms used in chocolate tasting, they may help you to articulate your sensations.