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Tasting preferences
April 3, 2005
9:07 pm
ellie
london, United Kingdom
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Really how you go about home tasting, apart from obvious keeping it separate from strong food? Does anyone always sips water in between? I found it’s never helps with a melt, so it sould be hot, then it becomes tea – i only have herbal teas. Though i’ve heard Blumenthal finds green tea to be the best palate cleanser( may be he did not include chocolate). Some find chocolate pairs best with brandy, but i suppose not for tasting? Wines are tricky, may be some full-bodied reds?

April 4, 2005
1:54 am
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Here’s a link that answers your question, Ellie:

http://www.seventypercent.com/…..rface,area

Take a look at my comment at how I conduct my taste tests.

For palate cleansing, I recommend you eat a small slice of apple. Not only will the apple wash away all residual flavors from the chocolate, but it will not contaminate your mouth with any of its flavors either. After that, wash your mouth out with room temperature water. Don’t use cold water because the cold will numb your taste buds. Ideally, though, you should wait long enough to experience the full finish of the chocolate before moving on to the next one. These guidelines apply if the intent is to experience the full flavor profile of the chocolate.

Do not use tea, wine, or anything else for a palate cleanser. Teas and wines have too many tannins and will deaden the taste buds. However, if you just want to pair chocolate with alcohol or tea just for the complementary flavor exeperience (and not for taste tests) then go for it.

Here’s a couple guidelines I recommend, though:
Pairing wine with chocolate is possible, but it can be very tricky. For instance, the tannins in red wine obstruct the nasal cavity and therefore prevent full detection of the chocolate’s flavor. So select a red wine that has been aged for five or more years. As for white wine, avoid chardonnays, champagne, and sparkling wines. Basically, the older the alcohol, the less tannins it has, or at least the more mellow they have become.

And in response to Green’s comments about Rooibus tea:
Rooibus tea has very few tannins, and indeed, it is for this reason that many people drink it. Green and black teas all have high tannin levels that make them taste bitter, especially when steeped too long. However, Rooibus, honeybush, and other such teas are great alternatives for people who are not too fond of the bitter and tannic properties of the Camellia sinensis persuasion. Therefore, these teas might pair better with chocolate, but they also tend to be inherently sweet and possess many complex flavors themselves.

April 4, 2005
4:22 pm
ellie
london, United Kingdom
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Yes, the herbal teas – and i mean not only rooibus, just some other blend as well, w/o licorice, though – seems to enhance the flavours for me sometimes, still working on it…
Do you find brandy is really just a marketing, in truth it quikly dulls all the senses?:-)

April 4, 2005
8:28 pm
legodude
Norway
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When it comes to wine and chocolate, I must say that the best chocolates are best alone, and the suble tastes should not be covered with the tastes of a wine. If you have a really good wine, it also needs to stand alone. But if i should try to recommend something I will call for fortified red wines from south France, and the areas Banyuls and Maury. I have also had good experiences with Malmsey Madeira. Good brown rhum can also work but the alchohol level is high.

"I`ve got lots of friends in San José. Do you know the way to San José?"
April 4, 2005
11:17 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Yes, lego, and that’s why it’s better to age an alcohol if pairing is going to occur. Otherwise, the best drink with chocolate is water…and that’s for palate cleasning.

June 20, 2005
12:40 am
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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Ellie, yes, brandy is a very bad pairing with chocolate. It’s way too harsh.

June 28, 2005
9:41 pm
seneca
USA
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May 22, 2005
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I’m an advocate of good old fashioned still room-temperature water as a palate cleanser. On the alcohol pairing front, I’ve had some very nice tastings with Madeira, Port and Tokay (not all at once), for what it’s worth.

Of course, it’s really a whole different animal pairing chocolate with anything else…if you want to really experience the flavor itself it’s always best alone :-)

One more thing to consider is the sugar content. You should consider tasting from higest cacao content to lowest, and naturally leave any flavored chocolates or milks (if included) until last.

http://bittersweetcafe.blogspot.com http://www.bittersweetcafe.com
June 29, 2005
9:53 am
Martin Christy
London, United Kingdom
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Depends on your audience as well – if they are new to fine chocolate you might not want to scare them off with 100% at the start! In this case I’d say start with a medium dark – Guanaja or Mangaro, then work your way up (perhaps to Kashaya), then save the sweeter stuff for the end.

Martin Christy
Editor
http://www.seventypercent.com

Martin Christy Editor www.seventypercent.com
June 29, 2005
9:54 am
Martin Christy
London, United Kingdom
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Oh, and bread is quite a good palate cleanser as well – I’ve used a nice organic white. Got that idea from olive oil tasting.

Martin Christy
Editor
http://www.seventypercent.com

Martin Christy Editor www.seventypercent.com
June 29, 2005
12:31 pm
ellie
london, United Kingdom
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10

How surprizing, never’d imaging. Blumenthal still advocates generally green tea as the best. He has green tea, lime and touch of vodka (to disperse the fats) palate cleanser – guess to sweep any taste left in the mouth!

June 29, 2005
6:29 pm
seneca
USA
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In my posting above I only meant that whatever the highest cacao content in your tasting (whether that’s 70% or 99%) you should begin there and work your way down. Definitely wouldn’t want to scare anybody off :-)

The reason for this is that sugar is a very effective masking agent of the more subtle flavors. The more sugar there is, the less you’ll taste anything else…

http://bittersweetcafe.blogspot.com http://www.bittersweetcafe.com
July 5, 2005
4:12 pm
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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I can’t imagine how starting high and ending low would be conducive to a pleasureable and informative tasting. I tested this recently with three Arriba bars, each one being 100%, 90%, and 75%. Although 75% is still relatively high, the prior exposure to the higher cocoa content bars simply exacerbated the sweet effects of the sugar to such a great extent that it was almost overbearing.

July 8, 2005
1:43 am
seneca
USA
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I feel exactly the opposite–I’ve just never had a good experience with lower cacao contents before higher. Sugar is indeed overbearing, but that’s why I find it easier to deal with later in a tasting than earlier. A good example of there being no truly definitive answer, I guess.

(Of course, now that I’ve said that, I will go so far as to suggest that no one ever taste milks or flavored chocolates before good old bittersweets if they’re going to be mixed :-)

Try both approaches and see what happens or what works best for you!

http://bittersweetcafe.blogspot.com http://www.bittersweetcafe.com
July 12, 2005
2:50 pm
ellie
london, United Kingdom
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14

Generally i’d go with Monte, though it’s opposite convention – but i found that I tolerate high sugar to start with better. People on tastings have said as well, that progress to “stronger chocolate” feels more natural. On the other hand, so much easier to skip tasting milk chocolate at the end, when nobody looking anymore, when normally my taste buds and eyes even can not take an idea of milk chocolate in the mouth![;)]