One way to enjoy chocolate is to bite 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 to 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 has a lovely nuance of brown color—the hue depends on the cacao origin, cacao variety, and processing techniques.
Listen Break off a piece of chocolate and listen to the sound. It should have a clean, bright snap—this is an indication of a well-made, well-tempered, high cacao percentage chocolate.
Smell Smell the freshly broken piece of chocolate. Breathe in deeply. At this point, the aromas may be faint, tantalizing your taste buds, because most of the flavor components are carried within the cacao butter and unfold only as the chocolate melts.
Taste Place the piece of chocolate on your tongue. Hold it there for a few seconds. Let it melt slowly. You can push it gently against the roof of your mouth to open the flavors. Chocolate is sensed largely by aroma—it's only when the flavor hits the back of your throat and nose that it can be fully expressed. A slow melt allows you to distinguish flavors as they evolve and layer over one another and to describe a chocolate’s character. 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.
When tasting chocolate, note your experience from the first impression to the finish. Keep in mind the following:
Sensations Chocolate is sensuous and embodies a complexity and depth that transcends most culinary pleasures—over 500 aromatic elements make up chocolate and their unique interaction illicit the luscious feeling we all know and love.
Close Your Eyes If desired, close your eyes to concentrate on tasting.
Basic Tastes Chocolate is bitter, sweet, and sour—they are 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. The flavors are evocative of foods and of nature and are hidden deep within the chocolate, just waiting to be released. As you taste, note the flavors you encounter and when they were tasted. 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 together, deliciously.
Finish Enjoy the chocolate’s finish. The flavor should be pleasant and linger in your mouth after you have swallowed making you want to come back for more.