Conducting a Chocolate Tasting


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Welcome to my Taste of Chocolate web site. Here you will find the results of over a decade of dark chocolate tasting, and my advice on conducting a tasting.

About once or twice a year, Iinvite a dozen or so friends and acquaintences over and we nibble on some of the best dark chocolate around (and, occasionally, some of the worst). We were pretty indiscriminate when we started, sampling as far down as 45% chocolate solids, but now we pretty much stick to 70% and and above. Without further ado, here is my advice on doing a chocolate tasting party.

The best chocolates in the world

(According to my secret formula calculations)

First, ya gotta get yourself some chocolate. You may opt for that icky, kiddy milk chocolate, or succumb to the dark side, but don't mix the two! Your palate will be conditioned by what you had before (even if you cleanse it) and results will turn out to be inconsistent. Even in the restricted variation we had with the first tasting (from 45% up to 70%), it was very difficult to compare from one bite to the next. In some years we've divided the chocolates into sets and took breaks between density bands.

Once you've gathered up all the chocolates for the tasting, break the bars into small pieces. Nope, smaller than that, even. If you're like us, you'll have a couple of dozen chocolates to taste. Even in small bits, that much chocolate will send your tasters climbing the walls. Break the typical chocolate square into quarters for the best size. Remember, some of your judges may test multiple times.

Drop each clutch of chocolates into a bowl with a number. I print out slips of paper and stick them into the chocolate pieces. Important: Write down which number corresponds to which chocolate. Otherwise, you'll never know which is your favorite.

Provide palate cleansers. Water is good, but it shouldn't be cold. That dulls the taste buds as well as making the next mouth of chocolate harder to melt. Carrot sticks are good, and any kind of flavorless cracker.

Feed your judges before they start. This much chocolate on an empty stomach hits some people hard. After awhile, your head starts floating up by the ceiling and your ears turn words funny. For food, I use peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It goes well with the chocolates and doesn't seem to mess up the judges tasting ability.

Give each judge a score sheet. Currently I tell them to use a one to ten scale with decimals allowed. Communicate your scoring and weighing criteria clearly to each judge. Some of them may pay attention. Let everyone wander around, tasting chocolates in whichever order they wish. Make them fill out their score sheets as completely as they can. Set up a computer somewhere with a pre-built spreadsheet. Encourage the judges to input their own scores when they are finished.

More information about me.   Email me at addrss with "chocolate" in the subject line.


Here are the top chocolates (in the 70% category) from years past: (Bold are repeat winners)

February 2007

May 2007

Chocovic Guaranda
Valor Dark
Amedai Toscana Black
Chocolove Strong Dark

Cote d'Or Intense
Valor Dark
Castelain Tradition
Galler Chocolate Noir



May 2006

November 2006 

Co-op Noir
Bernard Castelain Tradition
New Tree Pleasure
Amedai Porcelana

Suchard Sensations
Valor Dark
Theo Ivory Coast
Daskalides Papua New Guinea



2005 18 chocolates tested

February  2006  - 20 Chocolates Tasted

Bernard Castelain Tradition
Trader Joe's Pound Plus 70%
Côte d'Or Noir de Noir
Dolfin Chocolat Noir
Chocolove Strong Dark

Lake Champlain Sao Thome
Droste Barattini
Chocovic Guaranda
Ghiradelli Twilight Delight
Valrhona Guanaha




2003 32 chocolates tested

2004 22 chocolates tested

Frey Noir Special
Baratti 70%
Chocolove Strong Dark

Sainsbury Belgian Plain
Thorntons Dark

Amedai La Tavoletta
Cote d'Or Noir de Noir
Chocolove Strong Dark
Slitti Gran Cacao
Cuba Venchi Cuor di Cacao

My personal favorites for 2003

My personal favorites for 2004