Chocolate tasting notes
Tasting chocolate is a special art and one to enjoy with others.
Here are a few suggestions on how to heighten your chocolate tasting experience...
•Ensure your chocolate is at room temperature.
•Put out some jugs of water (lukewarm) and glasses
•Prepare some score/comment cards
•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 (White) and finish with the darkest
As we taste chocolate you will notice we use all our senses to get a true experience cocoa like wine picks up flavour notes from the soil it is grown in …
Look at the appearance of the chocolate as chocolates vary in colour from rich reds and coppers to dark browns. This is not a sign of quality and a common myth that the darker chocolate is somehow a better chocolate is certainly not the case.
The chocolate should have a smooth gloss and not be dull or gray.
Chocolate should be smooth not gritty or greasy to the touch
Take a small piece and let it melt between your thumb and forefinger. It is only then that you start to experience the aromas that we usually describe as flavours. You need to understand what you are sensing,
is it floral, fruity, earthy?
Like wine tasting there are many associated smells and it is by recognising them that helps you decide whether it is to your liking, or not.
Is the chocolate producing an intense aroma or is it subtle? Smells associated to a poor quality chocolate may be plastic or rubber, this can be due to poor fermentation or artificial drying of the cocoa beans. Another unfavourable sign is a heavy smokiness caused by drying the beans over wood fires (The ideal way to dry cocoa beans is simply under the sun, this is time consuming and therefore more expensive).
Put the first piece in your mouth and pinch your nose. Pinching your nose lets your tongue and mouth truly experience the chocolate. The tastes your tongue can detect are salt, sweet, sour, bitter, savoury; and the sensations and textures your mouth can detect include astringency and the cooling effect of the cocoa butter.
With a clean palette put a small amount of chocolate in your mouth and let it linger on your tongue for a short while and slowly move it around try to get some air in your mouth, extracting all the flavours. The main points to look out for in chocolate are firstly the hit of flavours and how long these last; ideally the flavours should steadily rise and linger rather than a "hit and run" effect. Also, the finest chocolate will produce a serious of flavours so creating a full and varied flavour profile from the first taste to the finish, rather than one level of flavour and that's it.
Next are the basic flavours of acidity, bitterness, sweetness and astringency. Is the chocolate too sour or sweet, is the acidity just enough to assist any fruitiness or is it too overpowering. A well balanced sensation of flavours depicts a good chocolate, a monotonous and uninteresting taste and also an overpowering note depicts a poor chocolate.
Release your nose. Continue to allow the chocolate to melt slowly on the tongue. Be aware of all the tastes, how the chocolate feels in your mouth, its texture (smooth, gritty, fatty) and how the aromas/flavours develop and change in the mouth/nose as time passes.
drink water between samples to cleanse the palette.
We're all different , so your tasting experience will be uniquely your own. Have fun comparing and contrasting your discoveries with others.