HOSTING A CHOCOLATE TASTING
Tasting is a special art and one to enjoy in the company of others. Green & Black's range of chocolates, from White to Dark 85%, offers the perfect opportunity for hosting a chocolate tasting party. It's a great way to have your guests experience the different aromas, textures and flavours this very special chocolate has to offer. Here are a few suggestions on how to heighten your chocolate tasting experience...
- Ensure your chocolate is at room temperature.
- Limit yourself to around six different chocolate varieties. Allow roughly two squares per person. Any more will give you tasting fatigue.
- Start with the lightest variety, e.g. White, and finish with the darkest, e.g. Dark 85%
As you taste…
- Observe the appearance of the chocolate as chocolates vary in colour. Like wine, intensity of colour does not necessarily indicate intensity of flavour.
- Smell the chocolate. Take a small piece and let it melt between your thumb and forefinger. It is only then that you experience the aromas that we usually describe as flavours.
- Taste the chocolate. Put the first piece in your mouth and pinch your nose. Pinching your nose lets your tongue and mouth truly experience the tastes and other sensations perceived in the mouth, as opposed to flavour, which is perceived by the olfactory gland in the nasal canal. The tastes your tongue can detect are salt, sweet, sour, bitter and umami ( a savoury taste); and the sensations and textures your mouth can detect include astringency and the cooling effect of the cocoa butter.
- Stop pinching your nose and breath in deeply. You will immediately sense the aromas or flavours of the chocolate. This is because all these volatiles are already surrounding the olfactory gland. The deep breath of air just allows it to work properly.
- After you've tasted like this once, you can continue in this vein or taste in a more traditional way. By allowing the chocolate to melt slowly on the tongue one experiences the change and development of flavours as the cocoa butter melts and releases the volatiles.
- Give your guests water between samples to cleanse the palate.
We're all unique, so your tasting experience will be uniquely your own. Have fun comparing and contrasting your discoveries with others.
Drinks to Accompany Chocolate
Micah Carr-Hill is our Head of Taste and also a serious lover of food. He became interested in wine when he worked in the British wine shop, Oddbins, and eight years later, has poured most of his earnings into buying wine and cooking meals for his friends and his partner, Natalie, which can take days to prepare.
Micah believes there should be no rules about what you should and shouldn't drink with particular foods, but says that “chocolate and chocolate desserts are particularly difficult to match as they coat your mouth, are usually quite sweet, and chocolate itself has a certain amount of acidity.” He therefore suggests a few tips:
“The one thing to bear in mind when matching wine to desserts is that it is best to choose a wine that is as sweet, if not sweeter, than the food, otherwise the wine is likely to be overpowered by what you are eating and seem unpleasantly sharp.
“However, chocolate does not always go well with traditional sweet wines such as Sauternes, and as chocolate is often married with cherries, raisins, dates, and other such fruits, it often makes sense to match them with drinks that have similar flavours. For example, a chocolate dessert with raspberry would go well with a raspberry liqueur like Framboise or raspberry beer from Belgium.
“Lighter desserts made with white and milk chocolate work well with a fresh, spritzy, grapey Moscato d’ Asti or a slightly heavier Orange Muscat (especially if they contain orange). Belgian cherry or raspberry beers would also be good.
“Desserts made with dark chocolate demand a richer and fuller wine such as a Black Muscat or a sweet Italian Recioto, made from partially dried red wine grapes. You could also try a vin doux naturel, which is a type of French wine that is made from partially fermented wine and local brandy, such as Rivesaltes, Banyuls, or Maury. A port, Ruby or Tawny, an Australian Liqueur Muscat, or even one of the sweeter Madeiras (Malmsey or Bual) would also be good choices.
“If you're serving a savoury dish such as a mole, you need a weighty red wine to cope with the range of rich flavours kicking about. A big Syrah, Shiraz, or Zinfandel would cope as would a big Italian red such as an Amarone or Barolo.
“Stouts, porters, and dark beers made from chocolate malts (they have been highly roasted) are also good companions as is black coffee, irrespective of whether there is coffee in the recipe or not.”