Did you know that Chocolate Tasting is like wine tasting. The best single estate cacaos, like the ones I use all taste different in the same way as wines taste different. It is to do with their genetics and where they are grown.
There are so many incredible flavours and so many questions. Discover the differences between different beans… do you prefer fruity ones or nutty ones? How can you look behind the pretty packaging and tell if a chocolate is good or not?
I have created The Discovery Tasting Box with the perfect bars to start you on your journey. You can get an all dark collection or one containing milk and white chocolates too. Each one has 2 limited edition chocolates not available in any shop.
There are tasting notes and a Flavour Map in each box, and if you like you can go to Willie’s TV and watch my Tasting Video as you go.
Here’s a quick guide for getting set up to do a Chocolate Tasting at home.
1 - Preparations
. Make sure your chocolate is at room temperature and you have plenty of water to drink between chocolates.
. Arm Yourself with the chocolates. If you don’t have any of mine, try to find some craft made single estate cacao ones. That way you will discover the flavours of fine beans and capture the magic. Don’t be fooled by anything that calls itself Single Origin, this is like saying wine from France! And don’t choose one containing vanilla (shows they are hiding the fact their beans don’t taste interesting) or lecithin (this is an emulsifier used in industrial processes, craft chocolatiers don’t use it).
. Get our Flavour Map, look online if you don’t have a physical one. This is a handy guide to help you navigate the c.400 flavour notes there are said to be in chocolate .We have grouped them together to give you a guide as to what to expect.
2 - The tasting order
. Start by tasting the chocolates with the highest % cacao and move sweeter. If you do it the other way round you won’t be able to taste the dark chocolates at the end. So if you have Pure Gold 100% cacao start with that.
. Have more than one single estate dark chocolate so you can taste the amazing differences. For example compare the nutty coffee notes in Rio Caribe 72 with the fruity Sambirano 71.
. Next taste any dark chocolates that are flavoured. Notice how I pair the flavour notes of the cacaos with the other ingredients. So to make Luscious Orange I used a bean that tastes naturally of honey as it pairs so well with citrus.
. Finally you can taste milk chocolates, then white chocolates. But I have to say, I still don’t make these very sweet. My El Blanco white chocolate has the same amount of added sugar as a 70% dark chocolate. this means you can taste the natural cocoa butter it is made from in all its glory. No Vanilla here!
3 - How to taste
. Pop a square of chocolate in the middle of your tongue and try as hard as you can to let it melt. Resist the chomping!
. Then wait and breathe. The breathing is very important as so much of the flavour is perceive by your nose.
. As the chocolate spreads around your mouth notice how the flavours develop and change.
. The sign of a good chocolate is always that the flavours stay with you after you have finished eating. They should not wash away in a flood of cocoa butter.
. Don’t worry, there are no right or wrong answers as everyone tastes a little differently. You are likely to pick up notes that your friends don’t and vice versa.
. By the end of your tasting session, you’ll discover which flavour profile best suits your taste and your personality. Will you be fruity or nutty, lively or spicy or will you love them all? For me, I love them all, there is one for every mood and every moment.
. Just one parting thought… if you think you are a real chocolate connoisseur, then you can take the ultimate challenge… Can you identify the flavour notes blind folded?!