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How to Host a Chocolate Tasting

A fun chocolate-tasting
A Welcoming and Fun In-Person Chocolate Tasting

Hosting a chocolate tasting can be a fun and enjoyable experience for the cocoa curious of all ages, levels and backgrounds. With a little planning and preparation, you can host a successful chocolate tasting event that your family, friends, clients or guests will remember for a long time to come. Here are the best tips online, on how to host a successful chocolate tasting event:

Step 1: Choose Your Craft Chocolate

The first step in hosting a chocolate tasting is to choose the craft chocolate that you will be serving. There are many different types of chocolate to choose from, including dark chocolate, vegan milk chocolate, and even 100% cacao bars. You may want to consider selecting a variety of bars to give your guests a chance to try different flavors and textures. Some factors to consider when choosing your chocolate include the cocoa percentage, the region in which it was grown, and any additional ingredients or flavorings that have been added. If that information is not available on the packaging it is not suitable for taste testing.

One way to choose your craft chocolate is to visit a local chocolate shop or specialty store and ask the staff for recommendations. You could also consider ordering chocolate online from us. When shopping for chocolate, again, be sure to read the details on labels carefully and look for chocolates that are made with the highest quality cocoa beans with the origin listed.

Step 2: Invite Your Guests

Once you have chosen your chocolate, it's time to invite your guests. You may want to consider sending out invitations in advance to give your guests plenty of notice. You could also consider inviting friends, family, and coworkers to your chocolate tasting event to make it more enjoyable for everyone.

From this author's experience hosting chocolate tastings, when to host it, has become very important. Not just the time of day, but also the time of year matters when picking a day and time. Don't pick a date when folks commonly go out in public to celebrate. The pandemic lockdown (for example) was a great opportunity for virtual and remote chocolate tastings. The time has finally returned to allow in-person hosting so make sure to pick a popular time of year like Valentine's Day, Mother's Day or even the year-end Holidays. Different types of audiences will be available at different times of the year.

When inviting your guests, be sure to let them know the date, time, and location of the event, as well as any other important details such as the dress code or any special requirements. Maybe make them each bring one unopened bar of craft chocolate? You may also want to consider providing your guests with a list of the different types of chocolate that you will be serving and any chocolate tasting tools.

Step 3: Set Up Your Tasting Area

Before your party arrives, you will need to set up your tasting area. You will need to have a table or other surface to place your chocolate on, as well as a supply of spoons, cups, or other utensils for your guests to use. Most importantly, deliver multiple tools to taste test the chocolate. There are some listed below in this blog.

You will need a variety of, or just your favorite palate cleanser(s) for everyone. A variety is nice. Soda water, liquid pectin, bread, champagne and water crackers are all professional resources. In case guests actually get hungry (they will leave), set out some plant-based and organic gluten-free snacks, such as crackers or fruit, to help keep your guests' present.

In addition to the tasting table, you may also want to consider setting up a separate area for your guests to sit and relax. This could be a comfortable couch or chairs, or even a separate room if you have the space. You may also want to consider providing your guests with refreshments such as water or coffee to help keep them hydrated and comfortable during the event.

Step 4: Prepare Your Chocolate

Before your guests arrive, you will need to prepare your chocolate for the tasting. You may want to consider breaking the chocolate into small pieces or placing it in individual cups or bowls to make it easier for your guests to taste. You may also want to consider heating (some of) the chocolate slightly to help release its flavors and aromas.

A chocolate tasting
A Beautiful View from a Chocolate Tasting

Step 5: Conduct the Tasting

When your guests arrive, it's not yet time to start the tasting. Make sure to explain which type of taste test(s) that will be conducted first. Explain how to use the chocolate measurement instruments you provide, so they can perform the taste tests properly. For more about the several types of taste tests and how to perform them, check out the Bean to Bar Chocolate Tasting Guide. This brand new guide is packed with cacao and chocolate history, field research data, chocolate-making steps and even a how-to on cocoa fermentation. It explains academic sensory analysis methods used by professional chocolate tasters for decades. You don't need to go to the expensive sommelier courses, just spend some time with the Bean to Bar Chocolate Tasting Guide and you will learn the skills taught by international culinary academies. Its like a text book but delicious. And, if you aren't into books, or know a guest into ebooks, give them this link to the free ebook version Know your instruments, or tasting tools, and provide copies for everyone. There are many awesome tools choose from. Check out these free tasting tools below.

Flavor Wheels - These are typically in color and are almost always present at chocolate tastings. Guests arrive at beginner or any level of skill, so this serves everyone with a reference point for detecting flavors in chocolate. Colored wheels can influence aroma perception. So can music, perfume, candles and so much more. There is a lot to learn about hosting chocolate tastings but they will always have flavor wheels for people to reference flavors and aromas with. This wheel below is in black and white so that there is no color to distract or influence flavor perception.

A chocolate flavor wheel
A Chocolate Flavor Wheel Free to Print, Download and Use.

Large Tasting Sheets - Click here for a free downloadable and printable large tasting sheet for you and your guests to use. Its got room for tasting 4 pieces of chocolate at once so there is no risk of palate fatigue with this sheet. There are some color, fun and time-based measuring tools on it too. Instructions are printed on it for swift understanding and wide reach. Familiarize yourself with it first, before the tasting or you could look completely unprepared.

A large tasting sheet.
A Larger Chocolate Tasting Sheet For Guests Use

Mini Tasting Slips - These are great and allow for folks to taste and process a larger quantity of chocolate faster. Its also useful to aptly measure and log single pieces of chocolate by the same factors month after month avoiding palate fatigue. Its totally downloadable and printable and sharable.

Mini chocolate tasting strips.
Quick, Easy and Efficient Mini Chocolate Tasting Slips. Great for Personal Use or for a Large Number of Guests

More tools may not be better. Just be sure to pick the tools you, as the host, are most versatile with. After all that, let the tasting begin.

You may want to consider explaining the different types of chocolate that you have chosen and their characteristics, such as the cocoa percentage or the region in which they were made, as you conduct the tasting. Be sure to encourage your guests to take their time and share their flavor and aroma discoveries with each other.

Step 6: Discuss the Tasting

After your guests have had a chance to taste all of the craft chocolates, you may want to consider discussing the tasting as a group. You could ask your guests to share their thoughts on the different chocolates and compare their notes on the scorecards. This can be a fun and engaging way to learn more about chocolate and get to know your guests better.

Provide your guests with additional information such as the cocoa percentage, the region in which they were made, or any additional ingredients or flavorings. This can help your guests to better understand the characteristics of each chocolate and appreciate the subtle differences between them.

The author hosting a chocolate tasting
The Author Hosting a Chocolate Tasting in Paris, France

Step 7: Clean Up and Enjoy

After the tasting is over, be sure to clean up your tasting area and put away any leftover chocolate. Just kidding, there won't be any. You may also want to consider offering your guests a selection of samples to take home with them as a souvenir of the event. As you and your guests enjoy the tasting, be sure to take the time to savor the connection and appreciate the trust given to you to host a successful chocolate tasting.

Step 8: Follow Up with Your Guests

After the event is over, be sure to follow up with your guests to thank them for attending and to get their feedback on the event. You may want to consider sending out a survey or email to gather feedback and ideas for future chocolate tasting events. You could also consider sharing photos or other memories from the event on social media or through email to help keep the experience fresh in your guests' minds.

By following these steps, you can host a successful craft chocolate tasting event. Whether you are an experienced chocolate connoisseur or a beginner looking to learn more about this delicious treat, hosting a tasting can be a delicious and educational experience for everyone involved.

Step 9: Plan for the Future

After your chocolate tasting event is over, you may want to consider planning for future events or even a blind taste test. You could consider hosting your tastings on a regular basis, such as once a month or once a quarter, to give your guests a chance to try new chocolates and keep the experience fresh and exciting.

a chocolate tasting vignette
The Future is not yet Written! There is Always Plenty of Craft Chocolate to Taste.

Performing a Blind Taste Test

2 people blindfolding themselves
Never Actually Blindfold Your Guests or Choose Extremely-low Quality Bars like this.

A blind taste test is a fun and objective way to compare craft chocolate. To host a blind taste test, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Choose the products you want to compare. Make sure to have enough of each product for all of your testers.

  2. Obscure the labels on the products, blind them, so the testers don't know which is which. You can do this by covering the labels with masking tape, or placing the products in identical containers.

  3. Set up a testing area with enough space for all of your tasters to sit comfortably. You may want to have a separate table for each product, or set up a buffet-style table with all of the products in separate bowls or glasses.

  4. Provide each person with a scorecard or questionnaire to fill out after tasting each product. This can include questions about flavor, texture, and overall preference.

  5. Have the guests taste the products one at a time, starting with a clean palate. You may want to provide water and crackers or bread to help cleanse the palate between pieces.

  6. Once all of the folks have tasted all of the products, tally up the scores and determine the overall winner.

  7. You may unblind the chocolate at this point and reveal the makers.

It's important to remember that everyone's taste preferences are different, so the results of a blind taste test will be subjective. However, a blind taste test can still be a fun and informative way to compare different craft chocolates.

Did you know that each one of your guests will taste everything differently? Thats because everyone's tastes buds are different. Its something to consider when sharing vital critiques.

Tasting Palate Calibration

There is a way to calibrate everyones palates. Calibrating your palate means training your taste buds to identify and distinguish different flavors and ingredients in the food and drink you consume. It is an important skill for chefs, sommeliers, and other food and beverage professionals to have, as it allows them to accurately create and replicate recipes, pair food and drink, and make informed recommendations to their customers. It is also useful for everyday eaters who want to better understand and appreciate the flavors of their meals.

There are several ways to calibrate your palate. One method is to taste and compare a range of ingredients and flavors, such as sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami, on their own and in combination. You can also try taste testing with your eyes closed to focus on the flavors and aromas, and try to identify the specific ingredients or flavor profiles in the food or drink. Another way is to get consensus on the flavor of each ingredient. This will show your guests that despite their differences, they can agree on flavors and tastes.

Calibrating your palate can be a lifelong process, and it is important to continually challenge and expand your taste preferences and knowledge. It can help you make more informed and satisfying food choices, and it can also enhance your enjoyment and appreciation of different people's perspectives.

You may also want to consider expanding your chocolate tasting to include other types of chocolate-related events, such as chocolate-making workshops or chocolate pairing dinners. These types of events can be a great way to build on the success of your chocolate tasting and provide your friends with even more opportunities to enjoy and learn about craft chocolate.

By following these steps and planning for the future, you can host a successful chocolate tasting event that your guests will love and remember for a long time to come.