HOW TO TASTE CHOCOLATE

Each individual chocolate offers its own distinctive flavors, textures and aromas, allowing an appreciation of the wealth of variety that can be created from the fruits of the Cacao tree. As with wine tasting, there are a few simple steps to truly savoring fine quality chocolate.

Chocolate should always be stored in a cool, dry, odor-free environment, but not in the fridge. Allow it to reach room temperature before tasting. Begin with white chocolate, followed by the milk varieties and move onto the stronger flavors of dark chocolate.

Tasting Solid Chocolate

Look at the surface of the chocolate. It should be smooth and glossy.

Now savor its aroma – this will vary greatly depending on the type of chocolate. Chocolate made from good quality cocoa beans can have floral, fruity, nutty, grassy, spicy, sweet, and woody aromas. Chocolate made from poor quality cocoa bean can produce a rubbery aroma (caused by under fermentation of the beans), ripe fruit (caused by over fermentation) or saltiness (caused by mold on the beans)

Snap off the chocolate. It should make a clean, crisp snap.

Place a piece of the chocolate in your mouth and wait a few seconds. The will allow you to taste the immediate flavors and aromas. Notice the feel of it on your tongue - it should feel firm and melt cleanly, without a waxy, sticky, or grainy texture.

Chew the chocolate to expand the surface area and release the second level of flavors and aroma. By rolling the chocolate around the tongue you will experience the full range of flavors by triggering the four taste zones – sweet and salty (tip of the tongue) sour (sides) and bitter (back).

Tasting Filled Chocolate

Place the chocolate in your mouth and allow it to melt for a few seconds. This will release the first flavors and aromas.

Chew the chocolate to blend the filling and the coating. Now let it melt slowly in your mouth and enjoy the lingering tastes.

PAIRING WITH CHOCOLATE

Alcohol & Chocolate

Wine

Wine is easily overpowered by chocolate so it is important the wine has a strong-note aroma to withstand the strength of the chocolate flavor. A wine that is slightly sweeter than the chocolate profile will be more successful and try to avoid doubling up on polyphenols, (such as a tannic Cabernet or malbec), or your tongue will shrivel up like a raisin!

Pinot noir, merlot and Maderia pair well with Milk Chocolates, while Zinfandel, Port, and Sherry pair best with Dark Chocolates. Port and dessert wines work well with most, and Ice wines and Moscato pair best with White Chocolates.

Beer

Beer can be an amazing pairing with chocolate, follow the chart below for the best combinations. (Courtesy of The Chocolate Fetish)

Chocolate Beer

Dark Chocolate with Spice or Salt

IPA with cripsy hoppy bitterness

Medium body dark chocolate

Pilsner

Dark Chocolate with Almonds

Brown Ale

Milk Chocolate with Coffee

Oatmeal Stout

Plain Dark Chocolate

Belgian Strong Ale

Dark Chocolate with Citrus

Belgian Tripple

Whiskey

“Single-origin chocolate will be your best bet when it comes to experiencing it with whisky. This means that the cacao beans are produced in one region, giving the chocolate a distinctive, pure taste. Milk chocolate can highlight the spicy kick in rye whiskeys, the bitterness of 70 per cent cacao can be softened by the sweetness of an aged whisky and a smoky dram works nicely with white chocolate.“ (Toast Magazine)

Rum

Rum pairs well with single origin, high percentage chocolates as well as pralines and caramel milk chocolates.

Tequila

"Tequila carries toasty notes from blue agave, which works well with the creamy texture of chocolate. Try fruit-flavored chocolate or mint chocolate to bring out the bright grassiness of the tequila. Chocolate with cinnamon or chili will get rid of the heat but enhance that spicy kick at the back of the throat. “ (Toast Magazine)

 

Chocolate & Other Foods

Nuts, fruits, cheeses and more, chocolate pairs well with many foods. We've compiled the best combinations by chocolate type.

Chocolate Type Pairings

Dark Chocolate

Pretzels, potato chips, peanuts and almonds

Goat, Parmesan, Chèvre, and Blue cheese

Raspberries, grapes, strawberries and bananas. (Dried too!)

Fennel, peppers, and pumpkin

Milk Chocolate

Walnuts, hazelnuts, and pecans

Gruyère and Asiago cheese

Coconut, orange, apples and cherries

Peanut butter, honey and caramel

White Chocolate

Blackberries, blueberries, lemon, and lime

Macadamia nuts and cashews

Caviar

Matcha, cardamom and saffron