I've always been a kind of sloppy choco-taster. It's just like with art, I like what I like, and I can't tell you why. But chocolate tasting is more than a matter of the tongue. Recently I watched a show about chocolate on the Travel channel, and I learned (it's very educational watching these shows, even if I do have to keep a drool rag handy) that there are four factors to consider when chocolate tasting. So if you wanna be a choco-connoisseur, here are your criteria:
ONE - What it looks like. Good chocolate will be smooth and shiny. No streaks or dots, no cracks, and full color (not that funny grayish hue chocolate can get when it's old).
TWO - What it smells like. The chocolate should have an odor, and it should be rich and chocolatey, not smokey or burnt or smell like chemicals.
THREE - What it sounds like. When you break a piece of good chocolate, it will have a distinctive sound, what the experts call "snap". It should also break cleanly, not crumble or break into layers. Of course, this test is kind of hard to do on something like a truffle. Heh.
FOUR - What it tastes like. (Finally!) True chocolate taste testing should be done slowly, so you can enjoy the way it melts on your tongue as well as the flavor. In other words, don't just chomp and swallow. Chewing doesn't allow the chocolate to melt and release it's nirvana. It should feel smooth and creamy in your mouth.
I vote for a future where we'll see chocolate tastings held as frequently as wine tastings. In the meantime, I may have to have a chocolate tasting party here. What a great idea!