Savoring Chocolate With All Of Your Senses
For a chocolate lover, the art of tasting — which is quite different from merely eating chocolate — has the power to transform a casual nibble into a world of new pleasures. The seemingly formal protocol used by professional chocolate makers, and connoisseurs, to compare and evaluate chocolates is simply a way of focusing attention on the chocolate, with all of our senses. It’s also loads of fun, challenging, delicious and great for the vocabulary.
Anyone can easily learn to taste chocolate for pleasure. No expertise or equipment is required. Tasting can be done at home alone, with close friends after dinner, or you can make it a party.
How To Taste And Appreciate Chocolate
Tasting chocolate for pleasure is a journey of discovery, a most enjoyable way to explore your own palate and preferences. No two people taste flavors or even experience textures in the same way; you will be amazed at the different responses you will find among a group of tasters.
- Serious or professional tasters usually taste one type of chocolate at a time, for example, milk chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, or white chocolate, ideally tasting no more than six samples at one sitting.
Pleasure tasters set their own rules, tasting chocolates from a single manufacturer, or from several, tasting across several types of chocolate or only from one type at a time.
- Professionals sit in a quiet, odor free room, perhaps with slightly dimmed lights!
Pleasure tasters are much more informal.
- Professionals typically do not talk while tasting, though they may compare notes afterwards.
Pleasure tasters can agree to chat or not. Whether or not sharing of opinions is allowed during the tasting, sharing afterwards is definitely part of the fun.
Getting Started/Setting Up
You will need:
- Chocolate samples cut or broken into very tiny pieces or shards (because tasters often taste and re-taste). Plan for providing about 1/3 to 1/2 oz. of each chocolate sample per taster.
- Tasting Placemats Ours features an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide to the protocol of tasting like a pro, and provides space for tasters to write their personal tasting notes.
- Water (slightly warm), and unsalted, unflavored crackers or matzo for each taster to cleanse the palate between tastes
Tasting Chocolate? What To Notice
In the past when you’ve eaten a piece of chocolate you’ve probably thought to yourself either “that’s pretty good,” or “I don’t especially like it.” Chocolate tasting is all about paying attention to the special nuances of different chocolates in ways you probably haven’t considered before.
Don’t worry. There’s no “right, or wrong” taste. The best chocolate is the one you like. In fact, no two people perceive aroma or taste flavors exactly the same way. Even the perception of texture — whether something is smooth and creamy or slightly gritty — differs from one palate to another. Your individual chocolate palate also evolves and sharpens over time with experience. Each taster should look for, notice, and describe what pleases them personally in the chocolates they taste, and what displeases them, as well.
To taste and appreciate chocolate, engage all of your senses.