You’ve heard of wine tasting, and maybe even cheese tasting, but you may not have heard of chocolate tasting.
If, like many of us, your customers enjoy the cocoa confectionery so much that they can’t resist munching through an entire bar as quickly as possible, they might be missing out. Willie Harcourt-Cooze of Willie’s Cacao, believes that eaten slowly, quality chocolate can be as fascinating to savour as a bottle of vintage wine.
The Quality Test
Willie believes that, like a good wine, quality cocoa products can be appreciated if we would only give them a little more time.
Each product is a unique combination of flavours which can be discerned by a cocoa gourmand. Connoisseurs will be able to pick out and recognise the flavours by identifying the amount and type of vanilla, sugar and beans used.
In the same way that each wine is a product of the specific terroir in which its grapes were grown, Willie asserts that each chocolate carries the signature of the region in which its cocoa beans were grown. Soil, sunshine and time of harvest will all affect the flavour of the confectionery it is used to create.
This is why Willie’s Cacao uses cocoa beans from only a single estate, so that the quality of his product is always consistent – just like a Grand Cru wine.
To really appreciate the subtle flavours of the various products, Willie suggests that customers approach them more like a fine wine: chocolate tasting as opposed to chocolate gobbling.
There are certain things customers can do to improve their appreciation of what they are tasting, including how they store the confectionery and how they eat it.
- Store at room temperature
It’s worth informing customers that the delicate flavour combinations in quality cocoa products can be altered and even ruined by being stored at the wrong temperature. Too hot and it will melt and separate; too cold and the flavours become locked in and difficult to appreciate. Willie suggests storing it at 18ºC to ensure its condition is optimised, but says it should be warmed to body temperature before eating so that it can melt in the mouth at the perfect rate.
- Savour the aroma
A large part of tasting something is actually about smelling it too, so encourage customers to give themselves time to take in the olfactory affect. Suggest that they break the bar close to their nose to inhale the full aroma.
- Let it melt on the tongue
While most of us like to scoff our favourite cocoa product down as quickly as possible, this actually prevents us from savouring the flavours so encourage customers to give themselves time to taste. The best way is to place a square on the tongue and let it melt slightly so the taste buds can identify the various layers of flavours.
Like any kind of appreciation, chocolate tasting is a skill which takes time to master. To help your customers on their way, Willie’s Cacao has created a clever Discovery Tasting Kit which breaks down the key flavour elements so that they can become adept at identifying them. And once they’ve mastered that they could test their new-found knowledge with a tasting of the brand’s 12 Bar Stand.
Once your customers have mastered these basic tasting tips, remind them that the next time someone accuses them of being a chocoholic they will legitimately be able to inform them that, in fact, what they are is a chocolate connoisseur.
Angelina Moufftard works for hf Chocolates, who provide retailers across the UK with the finest sweets and high-end chocolates from all over the world, including Spain, France, Germany, Italy and the USA. If you’re ready to provide your customers with all the elements to embark on their own chocolate tasting journey, you will find a wide range of delicious chocolate products on the hf Chocolates website.