There is a large variation in flavors among different chocolates, and enjoying the best chocolate should be an experience like no other. In fact, the flavor compounds found in dark chocolate, specifically, exceed those found in red wine. So—we’re not playing around when we say there’s a true art to properly tasting chocolate.

Every snap, every soft touch, every bite adds to the full sensory experience of enjoying the rich flavors and textures found in the best chocolates. Take some time to savor the advice in our chocolate tasting guide and, the next time you treat yourself to a great piece of chocolate, you’ll feel like a true connoisseur.

First, Some Chocolate Tasting Prep Work

Before you can dig in to your oh-so-delicious chocolate treats, we have a few simple prepping tips you may want to keep in mind.

First, you must find a quiet location. A space free of background noise and strong smells. This will help you truly prepare for the amazing experience you’re about to undergo. You will more likely be able to concentrate on the chocolate’s flavor and texture. Also start out by cleansing your palate. Make sure that your mouth is free of residual flavors from earlier meals. Some tips on cleansing your palate are to drink water, eat an apple or piece of bread, or chew on a piece of ginger.

An additional side note: Make sure to keep the chocolate at room temperature. When chocolate is cold, it takes longer to release the flavors and aromas than it does when it is at room temperature.

5 Chocolate Tasting Senses

1. SIGHT. Slowly unwrap the chocolate and examine the chocolate’s surface and color. Does it have a nice shine? Good color? Is it smooth or rumpled? All of these things will set you up for the rest of the chocolate tasting experience.

2. TOUCH. Slightly touch the surface of the chocolate with your finger. Quality chocolate will have a smooth, silky and even surface – free of dimples, dents and other imperfections. If the chocolate begins to melt to the warmth of your finger, this is desirable, as it helps release some of the aromas that will enhance the taste.

3. SOUND. Break the chocolate in half. Listen to the sound of the chocolate snapping in two. Does it crumble or pop? Is it a clean break or rigid? High-quality chocolate will break with smooth edges and create a loud snap. The lower the cocoa content, the less ‘snap’ it has.

4. SMELL. Hold a piece of the broken chocolate in between your thumb and forefinger, cup your other hand around the chocolate, and smell. Deeply inhale through your nose. Truly breathe in all of the rich aromas radiating off the chocolate. Just like wine, there are many aromas that you can start to recognize and decide which you like more. Is the aroma intense or faint? Rich? Sweet? Earthy? Fruity? This is a preparation stage for your final sense and will help enhance various flavors.

5. TASTE. When you place it in your mouth, PAUSE. Do not immediately chew it. Isolate the chocolate between your tongue and mouth. Most of your taste buds are towards the front of your tongue, where you should begin tasting the chocolate. It should be smooth and buttery and start melting in your mouth. Once it gently dissolves into a creamy liquid filling your mouth, you will begin to notice the complexity of its flavors.

Chocolate Tasting Parties

Now that you’re a chocolate tasting connoisseur, it’s time to share the news with your friends and family! Chocolate tasting parties are a great way to expand your chocolate horizons as well as become more knowledgeable about the chocolate you are eating. Invite some friends and chocolate lovers over, and give yourself an excuse to indulge in the rich and exciting flavors of Malley’s chocolate.

To help get your party started we’ve outlined some chocolate ideas below:

  • White chocolate lacks cocoa liquor, and includes the milk and vanilla used in milk chocolate. Try these Creamy White Break-Up Chocolates to experience the variety of sweet flavors these ingredients bring to the mix.
  • Dark chocolate contains cocoa solids giving it more of an authentic cocoa bean flavor. Dark chocolate typically has more of a bite to it than milk chocolate due to the lack of milk and cream in dark chocolate. Shop our selections of dark chocolates.
  • Milk chocolate is the sweeter counterpart to dark chocolate. Milk chocolate typically contains less of the original cocoa bean taste and contains milk solids, sugar and cream, giving it a smoother, creamier taste with less bite. Shop our selection of milk chocolates!
  • And what’s even greater for hosting parties is to provide all your guests with their own individual chocolate candy bars for tasting purposes.

We hope our chocolate tasting guide helps you master the art of tasting chocolate. Visit one of the many Malley’s locations or shop online to stock up on supplies for your next chocolate tasting party. Remember, don’t forget to cleanse your palate in between the different chocolates. This will allow you to truly experience their individual flavors.