How to Host a Chocolate Tasting
Chocolate tastings inspire conversation and put everyone in a good mood! They're great fun for social gatherings, popular for fundraising, and a touch of class at company parties and open house events.
Chocolate tastings are fun and educational, and a great way to entertain guests. Here are some tips for buying chocolates to sample, ideas for activities, and suggestions for party favors. You can offer all of these activities at one tasting, or invite a group of friends to host individual activities once a month.
1. Portion control and budget will be your first consideration. Since the idea is to sample and compare, you will be offering one-bite servings, not entire candies. Start by buying plain premium chocolate-dark, milk and white-and some artisan chocolates with interesting ingredients like herbs, sea salt, or hot peppers. Chocolate 'bark' is an economical choice; it can be cut into small bits for sampling. If your budget allows, add some chocolatier favorites like truffles and gianduja chocolate.
2. Decide between a broad or a focused tasting. Are you going to offer a wide range of chocolates, or focus on a definite type? For instance, you could offer only white chocolate in all its permutations. Other themes might include: cocoa, European chocolates, South American, vegan, fair trade, or unusual ingredients.
3. Attend a chocolate tasting class or visit your local chocolatier to learn more about chocolate production and sources and get ideas.
4. Offer chocolate libations as well. Even in summer, frothy cocoa and mocha drinks are great over ice.
5. Wine is also tasty with chocolate, and letting guests choose their own favorite chocolate and wine pairing stimulates conversation. Choose wines with gentle to medium tannins and plush fruit, like merlot or carmenere. Classic zinfandels have a raspberry and black pepper profile that also pairs well with both plain chocolates and those with spicy ingredients.
6. Have some party favors on hand to send home with guests. Imaged chocolates with a greeting or photo are a nice touch. Chocolate business cards also make an impact if you are in sales. Use a word processor to print chocolate recipes on postcards. Punch a hole in one corner and tie the recipe cards together with a ribbon. Or combine everything in a goodie bag with a brochure describing the types of chocolate and how to taste and evaluate chocolate.
Chocolate tastings can be combined with other events like bridal showers, anniversaries, and birthday parties. They're a great way to break the ice and get people talking. Or try offering a chocolate tasting for your local book club, and feature books and movies with chocolate as the theme!