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I thought I did before reading a piece written by an actual chocolate taster. The job, according to her, is not as sweet as it sounds. It would be something to covet if all the chocolate was high quality with great flavor, texture and aroma. Unfortunately, much is marginal at best, and some is downright awful. Those inferior morsels must be tested, too. Many tasters agree their two least favorite flavors are burnt and bitter.

Tasters generally work in a rather cool, very small room, all alone, with weird red lights and a computer into which information is entered. Working alone aids concentration, and discourages comparisons. The red lights ensure the evaluation is based on taste, not appearance.

Sampling a minimum of two dozen chocolates in each shift, none is swallowed. To keep the palate fresh and prevent the flavors from overlapping, the sample (no matter how good) is disposed of. They taste, not eat.) The taster then must pause for about 30 seconds to allow the mouth to rest, then eat an unsalted cracker and drink plain, warm water. (Salted crackers taint the ability to taste effectively, and carbonated or cold drinks numb the senses — just like the job itself may do!)

Being a chocolate taster dictates that all the senses are used, not just taste. First they smell it, and log their impressions into the computer. A standard taste sample measures one square inch in size, and will have no added nuts, crisps, etc. How it sounds when it is cracked is noted. (If it didn’t have a healthy snap, it could be old or stored improperly.)

To successfully taste the sample, it is pressed against the palate and allowed to melt. While savoring it (or not), the four basic tastes are recorded — sweet, sour, bitter or salty. Blowing out little puffs of air through the nose stimulates scent receptors in the brain that aid in the tasting process. Exhaling sharply brings out unexpected scents/aromas of berry, citrus, toast, cinnamon, spices, mushroom, beeswax, etc., nuances that are sometimes too subtle for the nose alone to detect. These characteristics, along with texture, are also noted.

I prefer to “taste” chocolate MY way . . . no note-taking, anywhere I want, with friends if I choose, and I will ALWAYS swallow it with gusto!

YOUR TONGUE DOESN’T WORK ALONE DURING THE TASTING PROCESS.

This Month’s Heavenly Selection From Your FavoriteChocolate of The Month Club:

“SMORES CRUNCH”  CENTER PIECES ARE SMORES, 1 MILK & 1 DARK CHOCOLATE, OUTER PIECES ARE GRANOLA & CARAMEL PIECES COATED WITH WHITE,  DARK & MILK CHOCOLATE.

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Tracie Burket
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