The following are the principle phases of a chocolate tasting using the eyes, the ears, the nose and the mouth.
Eyes and Ears
- Observe the chocolate bar to evaluate the color and visual aspect which must be homogeneous, smooth, shiny, without defects and must have a porcelain finish. The exterior must be free of white stripes and sugar crystals, while the interior must have no air bubbles or color changes. It is important to note that in general, the color nuance of a chocolate depends on the variety of cocoa used. It is not true that a chocolate with a very dark color always indicates the use of high-quality cocoa, as some believe. A very dark brown color could be a negative factor when it derives from an excessive roasting used to cover cocoa defects, which also dampens the aromas.
- Next, break the bar. It is important to pay attention to the sound produced, also called the “snap.” It must be sharp and crisp, but not too dry, recalling the idea of a solid object when it breaks.
- Next, smell the chocolate bar, inhaling slowly and deeply to evaluate the intensity of the cocoa aroma (also called primary aroma) and to individuate the other olfactory components, called secondary aromas. The presence of secondary aromas contributes to the complexity of the product’s bouquet. Remember that chocolate releases most of its aromas, especially the secondary aromas, once actually in the mouth.
- Introduce a square of a chocolate bar into the mouth.
- Taste it slowly by letting the chocolate melt for 20 to 30 seconds before swallowing. In this way the chocolate mixed with the saliva and air comes into contact with the taste buds and, at the same time, via the retronasal route, the olfactory perception opens up.
- Swallow and concentrate on the aromas you sense in the minutes that follow. Chocolate bars often have very long aroma persistence.
- Repeat the process and let a few minutes pass between each different tasting, rinsing your mouth with water each time.