There’s no better way to enjoy craft chocolate than with a group of friends or family. Whether it’s a formal tasting session or just a casual chat with drinks, it’s always a joy to taste some of the world’s best chocolate together with loved ones. Comparing experiences and sharing flavour memories is a great way to learn more about people and celebrate their uniqueness.
If you’d like to host a chocolate tasting at your place, here’s a quick guide for what you’ll need and how to do it…
What you’ll need
- Chocolate. Obviously! We recommend tasting 6-8 bars per session – any more will overwhelm your palate, but any less will feel a little lacklustre. You can simply choose a selection of your favourite bars, or you could do themed tastings, such as ‘single origins’, ‘alcohol-infused bars’ or ‘Christmas bars’. The possibilities are endless!
- People. Social gatherings always work best when other people are invited. Somewhere between 4 and 8 people works well, if you want to have a constructive discussion about the chocolate.
- Tasting guides, paper and pens. It might help to print out some flavour maps to help people interpret what they’re tasting. You could also try using Hazel Lee’s Taste With Colour guide. And be sure to provide pens and paper, so that people can make notes.
- Palate cleansers. Plain crackers and soda water can be good for this, or slices of apple and cucumber. Professionals sometimes use cold, plain couscous, but that’s not particularly enjoyable.
- Drinks. For the best possible tasting, some sort of light and mellow tea is ideal. It will warm the mouth and help the chocolate flavours explode, but it won’t dominate or interfere with the flavour too much. If you want to have alcohol with your tasting, keep in mind that alcohol will affect your palate heavily and change the flavour of the chocolate. It might be best to choose alcohol that will go well with a wide variety of chocolates, such as dessert wines, dark malty beers, or smooth whiskies.
What to do
- It’s up to you whether you host a formal or more casual session. For a formal session, set places around a table, making sure that everyone has a pen and paper and access to a flavour wheel/guide. Once everyone is comfortable and has a drink in their hand, start tasting!
- You’ll want to think carefully about the order you taste your bars in. Usually it’s good to start with the lightest chocolate and end with the darkest, but you also need to consider any inclusions (added flavours). Things like chilli, coffee or citrus can heavily affect your palate, so you might want to save these types of bars until the end.
- Take your time with each chocolate. Look at the packaging and read the details about each bar, then look at the chocolate itself and give it a good sniff. Move the chocolate around your mouth slowly, taking a couple of bites to unleash more flavour, and notice how the flavour and texture develops as the chocolate melts.
- Make a note of your experiences – how did you find the texture? What flavours did you taste? Did it change a lot as it melted and did it leave a strong aftertaste? Once you’ve considered all of this, compare notes with everybody and see how your experiences differed.
- Remember – there is no right or wrong. Everyone will have different experiences, depending on their different palates, different levels of expertise, and different memories. It’s important that everyone feels comfortable to express their views – part of the fun is realising that we all have unique perceptions of things.
- It’s best if the tasting session lasts no more than 60-90 minutes, as people’s attention spans start to wane after that. Once you’ve finished, you can keep nibbling on your favourite bars whilst chatting casually, and maybe discuss what you’d like to taste next time.
That’s all there is to it! So what are you waiting for? Order some exceptional craft chocolate today and start organising your next group tasting session. It’s a fantastic way to introduce people to craft chocolate for the first time, and a great way to bond with your loved ones. Plus, it’s much more delicious than playing a board game!
If you need any advice on how to run a session or which bars to purchase, feel free to email email@example.com