Admittedly, I once spread garlic butter on bread and thought it was honey butter. Totally embarrassed by the mistake, I couldn't understand how I could be so off. I finally realized the reason was simply that I was expecting honey.
That experience was a lesson in the power of suggestion. No matter how unbiased we think we are - labels, reputations, and expectations play a significant role in what we taste. In order to get an impartial impression of food, a blind tasting is the only way to go.
So when I got my hands on a collection of premium bean-to-bar Videri Chocolates from Raleigh, North Carolina, I recruited my friends to sample them sans packaging.
I wanted to know how they felt about the chocolate without knowing it sells for $8 a bar and not seeing the beautiful packaging that has an edition number hand-written on each box. It’s really hard not to love a chocolate more when you know it’s made by a husband and wife team and that the organic cocoa beans are lovingly hand sorted, roasted, and tempered in their small factory.
To conduct the tasting, the five chocolate boxes were labeled A – E, and the bars were chopped and placed in plastic cups with corresponding letters. We all tasted, pondered, and took notes; the flavors ranged from coconut and merlot to smoke and tobacco. Here's a compilation of everyone's tasting notes:
- Classic Dark Chocolate (70% Cocoa): Sweet, semi-sweet, buttermilk, milk, dark, semi-dark, acidic, velvety, luscious, hint of citrus, merlot, cherry
- Dark Milk Chocolate: Milk, creamy, coconut, fruity, super sweet, mild, buttery, smooth
- Sea Salt Chocolate (60% Cocoa): Salty, sweet, crunchy, dark chocolate, honey-notes, coffee, savory, meaty
- Pink Peppercorn Chocolate (60% Cocoa): Melon, tarragon, milky, sweet front and savory finish, black pepper, crunchy, peppercorn, spicy, chili, tastes like India
- Dark Chocolate (90% Cocoa): Very rich, dark, bitter, tobacco, chalky, velvety, earthy, tart, smoke, berry
After we had our fill, the chocolates were announced - some friends were surprised by the reveal and others were impressed by their keen palates. Overall everyone was a fan of the chocolate and could clearly recognize the quality of the product. It was an excellent exercise in identifying flavors and was a fun and unique way to entertain guests. Maybe after a few more blind-tasting parties I will have the palate of a food-critic, or at least one good enough to distinguish between garlic and honey.
Next time you are in Raleigh, North Carolina check out the Videri chocolate factory! You can order their products online at VideriChocolateFactory.com