The Chocolate Life

Discover Chocolate and Live La Vida Cocoa!

Do you call yourself a chocoholic? Do you know all the health benefits of chocolate? Can you tell premium quality chocolate apart from the rest? If you can, then you’re well on your way to becoming a connoisseur. If you can’t, well here’s a start. Before you start calling yourself a connoisseur, you need to know how to properly taste chocolate. So get ready to use your senses.

Smell

The first step to tasting like a connoisseur is using your sense of smell. Open the package and bring the chocolate close to your nose to smell it. Does the chocolate smell strong or is it subtle? Do you detect any other scents – such as vanilla, any spices, or fruit flavors? If you’re having troubles detecting the scents, lightly rub your thumb against the chocolate to warm it up, and then try smelling the chocolate again.

Sight

The appearance of a piece of chocolate can tell you a lot about its quality. If you see a white coating on chocolate, this is a good indication that the chocolate has bloomed – which usually results from improper storage or tempering. Look for air bubbles on the surface of the chocolate – premium quality chocolates shouldn’t have air bubbles as during the production process they would have been forced out. Color is not a good indicator of quality, as the type of bean and chocolate can affect the color. For instance milk chocolate is matte, where as dark chocolate is usually shiny. The rule of thumb however is that overall the chocolate should have a nice sheen to it.

Sound

If it's a solid piece of chocolate, break the piece in half. Can you hear a “snap” sound when it’s broken? Quality chocolate will break easily and neatly – if it’s brittle or soft, the chocolate may be either old, or improperly stored. Note: dark chocolate will break more easily than milk, due to the milk content in milk chocolate.

Touch

High quality chocolate will melt with your body temperature. Hold a piece of chocolate between your thumb and index finger and gently rub. Once the chocolate begins to melt, feel the texture – is it soft or hard? Grainy or velvety? You want to look for smooth texture and fine particles for premium chocolate quality.

Taste

Now you’re ready to taste the chocolate. Put a small piece in your mouth – the recommended size is about 7 grams. Let the chocolate sit on your tongue and begin to melt. Breathe in through your nose to invigorate the flavors and see if you can detect any notes. Now chew the piece three to five times and concentrate on the taste and texture. Is it spicy, sweet or salty? Fruity or nutty? Can you tell which fruits? Is it earthy? Use all the regions of your tongue and challenge yourself to identify all the various flavors. Note: if you’re tasting several different pieces of chocolate in one sitting, make sure to have a palate cleanser on hand between each tasting. We recommend room temperature water and unsalted crackers

Paring chocolate and wine

Wine Pairings Now that you know how to really taste chocolate, you’re ready to learn how to pair chocolate with the perfect drink…wine! Two of life’s greatest pleasures, also make the most delightful combination. There are two ways to set-up your wine and chocolate pairing combination's – pair based on complementary flavors or pair based on contrasting flavors.

For complementary combination's, we recommend pairing dark chocolate with red wine; and pairing milk chocolate with white wine. One rule of thumb to remember is to choose a wine that is at least as sweet or sweeter than the chocolate. If you’re tasting a variety of chocolate with different wines, start with the lightest pair and work your way up to full-bodied flavors – ie. white chocolate first, then milk and end with dark chocolate.For contrasting combination's, the different flavor notes can combine to offer a surprisingly delightful taste.

Any chocolate and wine tasting should be approached with an open mind – you want to enjoy the experience, and you shouldn’t feel like there is a right and wrong combination. These are just some guidelines, so go ahead and begin experimenting.

Wine and Chocolate:

White chocolate:
Sherry
Muscat

Milk Chocolate:
Pinot Noir
Merlot
Sparkling Wine or Champagne
Riesling
Dessert Wines
Sauvignon Blanc

Dark Chocolate:
Zinfandel
Tawny Port
Cognac
Shiraz
Cabernet Sauvignon

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Tags: Chocolate, and, chocolate, tasting, wine

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Comment by myechocolate on November 3, 2010 at 7:17pm
This is true you have a good point, some times it taste better than it looks. Thanks for Sharing Bernt.
Comment by Bernt on November 3, 2010 at 12:29am
Great post! I think you're spot on regarding how to taste chocolates! Very consistent with what I've read from other experts. I on the other hand, omit the sight aspect with my chocolate tasting parties. Since my object is to identify a "winner" with each party, I eliminate visual bias that was apparent with earlier chocolate tasting parties.

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