Like wine, the flavour of chocolate is determined by multiple factors starting with the type of cocoa variety and its origin right through to harvesting, drying, production techniques and homogeneity of the ingredients. It is a delicate substance that is very sensitive to humidity and temperature variations and therefore the correct storage conditions of the chocolate itself are very important.
There are a number of ways to taste chocolate, from very formal scoring systems and comparisons, to simply enjoying the unique characteristics and flavour tones on your own or amongst friends.
First allow the chocolate to rest at room temperature for about 2 hours before tasting.
Before you begin, clear your palate to ensure that your mouth does not contain residual flavours from a previous meal or drink. Rinsing with some warm water, eating a piece of apple or some bread helps.
The visual appearance of the chocolate is just as important as its taste. The surface should be free of blemishes or a mouldy-looking white coating known as bloom (either fat bloom, arising from changes in the fat in the chocolate, a condition in which cocoa butter infiltrates to the surface or sugar bloom, formed by the action of moisture on the sugar ingredients both of which limit the shelf life of the chocolates). If it has been correctly tempered, moulded and stored, the surface should have a radiant sheen.
A clean resounding "SNAP" and a fine gradient along the broken edge when breaking a piece in half is an indication of good quality.
Next, smell the chocolate to get a first sensory impression of the various nuances of the aroma. By placing the chocolate on the tongue and gently chewing only to break it into smaller pieces you will allow it to melt and release its volatile compounds and flavours.
Texture can be one of the most obvious clues about the quality of a chocolate. Low quality chocolates will have a grainy or gritty texture, whilst good quality will feel very smooth.
Let the flavours develop and take note of how the chocolate leaves the palate. A good quality chocolate should not be sticky and have multiple layers of flavours with a constant and lingering underlying tone of cocoa.
Above all, enjoy the moment and explore the great variety of highest quality chocolates from around the World. We recommend our Pure Collection Range, which offers a unique selection of single origin and single estate chocolates, each with their own very distinctive characteristics.