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Tasting chocolates - according to Sulpice Debauve

Purveyor to French kings and a must for all true connoisseurs, Debauve & Gallais is pleased to offer a singular range of dark chocolates featuring an exceptional grade of aromatic cocoa (many consisting of 72%, 85%, even 99% cocoa) aimed at an exclusive clientele of chocolate purists. Many aesthetes and gourmands have attempted to define the rules for chocolate tasting. For our part, we offer several reflections made by our founder, Sulpice Debauve, on the subject. These reflections were taken from correspondence dating back to the 1830s and reveal his thoughts on the ideal circumstances, moment, and methods of tasting.


FIRST RULE: Circumstances - a spiritual state

According to the Aztec culture, cocoa - or Theobroma - is the drink of the gods. Like many of the most refined foods, cocoa tasting requires a clean palate. Tasting should be a moment of meditation, an opportunity to escape the stresses of daily life and renew our sense of true values. "It is important, above all, to take one's time and to make each moment of tasting a moment of eternity. Serene, surrounded by loved ones, with a calm spirit - allow yourself to become absorbed in the taste of the chocolate."


SECOND RULE: The moment - heightening one's awareness of tastes and aromas

The ideal moment for tasting a dark chocolate bonbon is between meals. In effect, hunger sharpens the perception of cold aromas while the beginning of the digestive process awakens the perception of hot aromas. It is also possible to approach tasting in this way: before meals, taste "hot aromas" - in this case, ganaches - and after meals, taste only "cold aromas" - or pralinés. "The palate appreciates all best when its tasting ability isn't muddled by a pressing hunger or the saturation of the tastebuds following a large meal."


THIRD RULE: Methods - perception and enjoyment of the details

Debauve's instructions for eating chocolates are precise: Place a chocolate in the middle of your tongue. Chew slowly, several times. Let the chocolate linger for several seconds, during which time you may notice a warm sensation from the outer coating of cocoa as it melts on the tongue. The bonbon - still resting on the palate - then begins to withdraw into a blend of subtle aromas until finally it overwhelms the palate with all of the richness of its flavors.