Whether it’s chocolate, wine, tea, whiskey, cheese or any other fine food or drink, you need to engage all five senses to appreciate it fully. So let’s recap the bases for a mindful chocolate tasting:
1) Use your eyes
Pay attention to the piece of chocolate you are about to taste and look at its appearance before you put it in your mouth. The surface should be smooth and shiny, indicating a successful tempering process and attentive storing conditions. Chocolate can also take up different shades of brown depending on many factors like the cacao variety and the roasting time. On a scale from light brown to almost black, try to identify the shade you are looking at.
2) Touch it
Is the chocolate soft or hard? Is it sticky, grainy, sandy or velvety? Is it crispy or crunchy? Getting to know the feeling of a chocolate will help you recognize it again in the future.
3) Listen to it
Break a piece of the chocolate and focus on the sound it makes. Did it break easily? Neatly? Drily? A chocolate that snaps without too much effort is usually a sign that the balance between cocoa solids and cocoa butter is right.
4) Smell it
Did you know that taste is 90% smell? You will have noticed that food is more tasteless when you have a cold and your nose is blocked up. So take your time to smell the chocolate and experience all its aromas. Good cocoa smells often remind us of natural products such as fruits, flowers, woodlands or spices. Smells like mold, plastic or smoke are usually not a good sign.
5) Taste it
When tasting chocolate, try just a small, fingernail-sized piece. Put it on your tongue and let it melt for a few seconds. Start chewing and breaking it into smaller chinks. Then stop, relax and allow for all the flavors to be released and spread around your mouth.
Happy chocolate tasting!