How to Host a Chocolate Tasting
If January is the month of resolutions, February is the month of love and sharing. Whether you’re planning a date night, Galentine’s gathering, or simply having some friends or family over, express your love with some chocolate (and learn a little something along the way!).
There’s single-origin chocolate, basic Hershey bars, and everything in-between. Where do you even start? Consider a chocolate tasting similar to any other tasting: wine, cheese, beer, or even basic Costco sampling. There’s a theme, notepad and writing utensil (for you note takers out there) palate cleanser, and of course ample snacks and drinks on the side.
Choosing Your Chocolates
Some chocolate tasting themes include single-origin, complex dark, truffles, spectrum tasting, or even a variety of different chocolate fondues. The experience is meant to be fun, so plan your tasting with the best theme to match your audience. Based off your themes chose a selection of chocolates that have as many similarities as possible, with as few variables as possible. Variations to look for include country/region, varying amounts of cacao (usually expressed as a percent), flavors added, same types of chocolate but different brands, various levels of darkness (white, milk, dark).
Palate Cleansers & Snacks
While chocolate and red wine pair so well for dessert, the strong tannic flavors can often overwhelm the nuances in the chocolates. The best drink to cleanse your palate is warm water. It helps to clear any flavor and then releases the aroma and flavor of the incoming chocolate. Sparkling water is also a good alternative to warm still water. If you’re itching to crack open a bottle of wine, you can always pair a light white or sparkling wine without overwhelming your tastebuds
Simple snacks such as a sliced baguette, apple slices, berries, or plain crackers are good palate cleansers and snacks. A funky, creamy, blue cheese also provides a nice contrast to any variety of chocolate. Be sure to plan some additional snacks for when the tasting is over and you’re all comparing notes.
How to Taste the Chocolate
Much like wine tasting, chocolate tasting is delicious, based off your preferences, and full of decorative words. Based on various sources on the internet five essential steps remain consistent:
- Look at the chocolate. What is the color, texture, shine, consistency? As you’re tasting it, how quickly does the chocolate melt or hard/soft is it to chew?
- Listen to the chocolate. When you break it, does it snap, chip, flake, or break easily?
- Smell the chocolate. What aroma does the chocolate provide? If you cup the chocolate in your hands and hold it up to your nose while taking short, rapid sniffs, what do you smell?
- Taste the chocolate. Descriptions can be as varied as mushroom, tobacco, creamy marshmallow, dark soil, to fruity, violet/floral, bright, or savory.
- Describe or rank your observations. There are many chocolate tasting score cards online to help describe your experience, or to rank the chocolate in each category to distinguish nuances.