A Simple Guide
- Select a few chocolates to taste and compare. When choosing bars consider a theme. (Not sure how to decide on a theme? Here are a few suggestions: cacao percentage, bean origin, all one brand, compare several brands, chocolate with inclusions, American-made bean-to-bar companies, European, etc… the possibilities are endless!)
- Once you have assembled your assortment of bars, arrange bite-sized pieces of chocolate from lightest to darkest.
- Have water and bread or crackers on hand to cleanse the palate between chocolates.
- Before you begin tasting, read through the “How to Taste” instructions and peruse the flavor wheel.
- Gather together friends to taste and discuss chocolate.
How to Taste Chocolate
Engage the Senses!
“When tasting chocolate (or really anything else) we like to talk about engaging our senses. Start with a fresh palate. Starting with a clean palate will mean that you won’t have any other flavors interfering with your chocolate tasting. This may be having a sip of water or taking a bite of a neutral bread or cracker,” the Deli’s chocolate specialist said.
- Look at the appearance of the bar. “Tasting chocolate begins with your eyes. How does the chocolate look,” she said. Notice the color and composition. For example, does the chocolate look and feel smooth or grainy?
- Listen to the snap by breaking a piece in half. A bar of well-tempered dark chocolate will have a clean, clear snapping sound. (Milk chocolates are softer and will have a quieter snap.) “You may see pieces of fruit, nuts, etc. All of these details will guide you in your tasting experience,” she said.
- Smell the chocolate and take note of the aroma. Keep in mind aroma has a big impact on your sense of taste.”This may include a direct smell or maybe letting some of the chocolate melt when you rub it between your finger and thumb and then inhaling,” she said.
Now it’s time to taste!
- Take a small piece and place it on your tongue to taste. Chew only a little, then let it melt.
- First, analyze the texture. What adjectives come to mind? For example, is it creamy or gritty? Does it melt slowly or quickly?
- Now concentrate on the flavor profile. If you wish, use the flavor wheel to assist you. “Notice how the flavors and texture evolve over time. Often as you chew chocolate, flavors will occur in waves and will have a beginning, middle and end,” she said
Compare Other Chocolate Flavors
- Continue tasting other chocolates you have chosen. Compare how flavors and textures differ from bar to bar. Take notes and have fun creating your own favorite pairings with each of the chocolates you choose.
Zingerman’s Next Door Café is a treasure trove of chocolates and confections. Our shelves are filled with an array of chocolate from near and far, traditional to wild. We’d love to make some recommendations for your tasting spread. Visit us in the Chocolate Corner for assistance!