Chocolate can be one of the most delightful tasting experiences. It is best enjoyed when eaten slowly and savored to appreciate its complexity. Hosting a tasting party can best provide an environment to thoroughly enjoy the tastes, along with having a wonderful time with friends. A party can be conducted much in the same way as sommeliers taste fine wine.
To host the perfect party, here are a few instructions:
Atmosphere: Have soft music playing. The room should be quiet and relaxed. This will allow you to completely concentrate on the different qualities and subtleties of each piece you try..
Temperature: The chocolate should be at room temperature to best enjoy the taste.
From 0 to 100%: Start with a low percentage of cocoa. You can begin with a white, followed up with a milk. Lastly, introduce the dark chocolates and work up to the dark varieties with 70 to 100% cocoa.
Clean the Palate: Before any tasting drink room temperature water or a mild tea or eat a small amount of white bread. This is very important if you have eaten very flavorful or spicy foods.
Amount: Limit the number of varieties and amounts to be tasted. Try a maximum of 7 varieties and allow approximately ½ ounce of each variety per person. By limiting the number, you will keep the palate from being dulled.
The 5 Senses
When you are making assessments of each chocolate, enjoy each piece with your all of your senses:
- Sight – Examine the color, structure and sheen.
- Touch – A quality piece will have a matte, silky sheen resulting from production techniques such as conching and proper storage.
- Sound – How does it break? Does it have a “clean snap”.
- Smell – Breath in the fragrances. You could likely identify aromas such as fruit, spice, honey or caramel. Enjoy the smell before tasting!
- Taste – The actual flavor in your mouth is the climax. Let the chocolate rest on your tongue. How satisfying is the taste?
Aromas and Flavors
There will very likely be a wide array of scents and flavors you will be able to detect while you assess each piece. Here are some categories and examples of related aromas and flavors that can be used:
- Spice: Cinnamon, vanilla, liquorice
- Roasted: Caramel, coffee, tobacco
- Nuts: Almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts
- Fruit: Red berries, citrus, dried fruit
- Vegetable: Moss, mushrooms, fresh grass
- Flowers: Rose, jasmine, orange blossom
- Miscellaneous: Milk, butter, earth
Write Down Your Thoughts
It would be helpful to create a sheet with columns for: chocolate, aroma, texture and flavor, finish and melt. Take your time and write down your thoughts as you taste each piece.
If you follow these simple steps, you can be assured that your tasting party will be a huge success.