Six Steps to Chocolate Tasting
There is no one correct way to pair chocolate with beer, wine or cheese. We have experimented over the years and have come up with some terrific combinations that we are happy to share with you (look to the left for links to different pairings).
Here are some tasting steps that will help you delve deeper into the flavor combinations of what you are eating. We encourage you to try out your own pairings — you never know what new taste combinations you may discover!
Study the look and color of the chocolate. If tempered, it should have a smooth, high-sheen look. If grey/white, then the chocolate has bloomed — the fats or sugars have migrated to the surface of the chocolate leaving a whitish residue. This is due to a change in humidity or temperature. Click to learn more about storing chocolate.
Properly tempered chocolate should have a good, clean snap.
Smell the broken piece. Identify the fragrances. Milk chocolate may have a milky, vanilla smell. Remember that you cannot smell “sweet.” Dark chocolate may have more of a chocolate aroma. Unfermented beans smell like burnt rubber. Beans stored in humid areas can smell like grass or burlap. Beans dried over wood fires smell smoky.
How does the chocolate feel in your mouth?
Does it have a quick melt or slow melt? A smooth or chalky consistency?
- Chocolate melts at body temperature, at the moment you put it in your mouth.
- Compound coatings do not melt at body temperature and lack a high cocoa butter content
- A quick melt is desirable
What “notes” do you taste in the different stages (beginning, middle, finish)?
There are four basic tastes (some say five, including "Umami" -- but this does not apply to chocolate):
- Sweet: at the tip of your tongue
- Sour: along the front sides of your tongue
- Salt: along the back sides of your tongue
- Bitter: at the back of your tongue
Sweet, sour, salt, and bitter cannot be smelled. Usually when someone says something smells sweet, they really smell vanilla.
Here are some commonly used terms in tasting:
- Buttery/sweet (cashews)
- Brown fruit (raisins/prunes/red fruit)
- Nutty/buttery (macadamia nuts)
- Lactic sour (sour cream/cream cheese)
- Caramel/caramelized or burnt sugar
- Astringent (unripe fruit)
What did you like or dislike about the product?