Tasting is a special art and one to enjoy in the company of others. A chocolate tasting party is a great way to have your guests experience the different aromas, textures and flavours a range of special chocolate has to offer.
Here are a few suggestions on how to heighten your chocolate tasting experience…
Ensure your chocolate is at room temperature.
Limit yourself to around six different chocolate varieties. Allow roughly two squares per person. Any more will give you tasting fatigue.
Start with the lightest variety,
e.g. White, and finish with the darkest, e.g. Dark 85%
As you taste…
Observe the appearance of the chocolate as chocolates vary in colour. Like wine, intensity of colour does not necessarily indicate intensity of flavour.
Smell the chocolate. Take a small piece and let it melt between your thumb and forefinger. It is only then that you experience the aromas that we usually describe as flavours.
Taste the chocolate. Put the first piece in your mouth and pinch your nose. Pinching your nose lets your tongue and mouth truly experience the tastes and other sensations perceived in the mouth, as opposed to flavour, which is perceived by the olfactory gland in the nasal canal. The tastes your tongue can detect are salt, sweet, sour, bitter and umami ( a savoury taste); and the sensations and textures your mouth can detect include astringency and the cooling effect of the cocoa butter.
Stop pinching your nose and breath in deeply. You will immediately sense the aromas or flavours of the chocolate. This is because all these volatiles are already surrounding the olfactory gland. The deep breath of air just allows it to work properly.
After you’ve tasted like this once, you can continue in this vein or taste in a more traditional way. By allowing the chocolate to melt slowly on the tongue one experiences the change and development of flavours as the cocoa butter melts and releases the volatiles.
Give your guests water between samples to cleanse the palate.
We’re all unique, so your tasting experience will be uniquely your own. Have fun comparing and contrasting your discoveries with others.