A Chocolate Tasting Guide for New Zealand Chocolate

Both Jennifer and myself are landscape photographers not chocolatiers but since we've been getting our photos printed on chocolate we've become curious about what makes good or bad chocolate. And how you go about enhancing your chocolate tasting experience.

We've done a little bit of research and thought we would pass on our results to you.

Heat

The first thing we found out is that chocolate is quite temperamental material to work with. If it gets too hot it gets these white specks or if it gets too cold, it can start cracking. Apart from not looking very good this also affects the flavour of the chocolate once it hits your taste buds.

Apparently, chocolate has more flavonoids than red wine and like red wine if it is heated it can cause long-term damage to the flavonoids.

This affects the final taste that you get. So be on the lookout for any chocolate that has a white flaky texture to it, this chocolate is compromised in this sense that you will not be getting the full flavour from the chocolate. If you get home and unwrap your chocolate bar to discover that it is like this return it to the store you bought your chocolate bar from.

Storing

Be careful where you store your chocolate. Ideally, avoid storing your chocolate in your fridge or refrigerator. This is because chocolate is a food that is a flavour absorber, and will absorb any and every flavour that is in your fridge. There are some foods that aren't supposed to mix! Secondly, if your chocolate is reasonably thin, storing it at a cold temperature could cause it to crack.

Tasting

The tasting may seem a reasonably straightforward process; break some chocolate off and put it in your mouth, and start chewing.

Actually, before you put any chocolate (including our New Zealand handmade chocolate) in your mouth need to make sure you have a clean palate so that you can take in all the different flavonoids of the chocolate. A reasonably straightforward way of doing this is to either eat a slice of Apple or a piece of white bread, both of these foods are able to absorb the flavours of other foods without introducing a new flavour.

Then break a piece of chocolate and absorb the aroma that is released when the chocolate broken. This allows you to prepare your smelling and tasting senses before you put any chocolate and your mouth.

When you put the chocolate in your mouth rather than chewing it, you need to let it melt slowly in your mouth, then swallow. Firstly, this allows the chocolate to circulate over all of the tongue so you pick up all the different and subtle flavours on the different parts of your tongue. Secondly, initially chewing chocolate can actually release quite a bitter taste and doesn't give all the flavonoids time to break down on your tongue (this is in part why quite a lot of sugar is added to some chocolate).

As we said at the start, we are not chocolatiers and this advice is not designed to be a foolproof guide but we hope you find it a useful starting point to chocolate tasting. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any feedback or suggestions.

-Jennifer and David Hammond, Directors Freshtake Publishers

contact us at Jennifer@freshtakepublishers.com and David@freshtakepublishers.com.