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How to Taste and Appreciate Chocolate with Sisko Chocolate

Home > Melbourne > Chocolate | Food and Wine | Fun Things To Do | How To
by Lionel (subscribe)
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Published June 27th 2014
Tips to a more delicious world of fine chocolate
sisko chocolate melbourne
Photo courtesy of Sisko Chocolate

"Chocolate is the greatest gift to women ever created, next to the likes of Paul Newman and Gene Kelly. It's something that should be had on a daily basis." says Hollywood actress Sandra Bullock. It explains why the mood in the room changes to the positive whenever I mention the word "chocolate".

This food of love is filled with natural enzymes that trigger a rise in dopamine, the brain chemical that positively affects mood. The "happy" reaction accounts for why chocolate is popular with many. The UK alone consumes some 661,000 tonnes of chocolate annually or an average of 11kg per person per year. This equates to about 3 bars a week. In Belgium, the per capita chocolate consumption is also around 11 kilograms and Australia is about 5.3 kilograms.

sisko chocolate melbourne
Photo courtesy of Sisko Chocolate

While there are many self-professed chocolate lovers among my friends, not all are versed in the appreciation and tasting of this food. Much like the knowledge of vinification enhancing the appreciation of world-class wines, a deeper understanding of the art and science behind chocolates will also heighten the enjoyment. I decided to seek the advice of friend and chocolatier Christina Tantsis who is also the owner of Sisko Chocolate in Melbourne.

sisko chocolate melbourne
Photo courtesy of Sisko Chocolate

Christina is not your typical chocolatier. She is more of an artist who recognized the potential of the sweet treat as a medium for creating delicious couverture chocolate centerpieces and sculptures. She trained in California and worked with Australian Chocolate Master, Paul Kennedy to prepare for the World Chocolate Masters in Paris. The result of her unquenchable passion is Sisko Chocolate, a chocolate design studio where she pushes the boundaries of how luxury couverture chocolate can be used creatively and enjoyed aesthetically while remaining decadently delicious.

Christina and I have attended too many chocolate tastings, with me on the savoring and her on the sharing end. The most recent being her chocolate appreciation class in the QV Tropical Retreat. What we've found is that everyone will have a different opinion on which chocolate is their favourite. You might love an 85% dark chocolate while the person next to you is inclined towards the 40% sweeter chocolate. There is no right or wrong to one's likes or dislikes. What we'll be sharing with you in the rest of this article will change the way you consume chocolate. Once you've discovered Christina's chocolatier world, your palate will never be the same. Here are some simple tips that you can read while tasting and appreciating chocolate at the same time.
sisko chocolate melbourne
Photo courtesy of Sisko Chocolate

1. Good food needs good company

You would share a bottle of fine wine from the Barossa with friends. Similarly tasty chocolate needs good company. So gather a few friends, organise a tasting and go shopping for a range of chocolates from the lightest chocolate to darkest cacao percentage

2. Buy right

Don't just grab any chocolate off the supermarket shelf. Check the label to find out if the chocolate bar has any vegetable fat in it. Avoid those and purchase only chocolate with cocoa butter.

3. Slow down

While we all enjoy chocolate, resist putting the sweet treat straight into your mouth. Firstly organize glasses of water and fresh granny smith apple pieces close by to cleanse your palate between tastings. Next place your chocolate purchases in a row from the lightest chocolate to darkest cacao percentage. Slow down and let the chocolate melt so your taste buds can savor and discover the real flavors of the chocolate. This is an important step to tasting and appreciating chocolate.

4. Look

The surface should be shiny and satin like. Any whiteness means the chocolate has been heat affected and lost temper. It is still edible but the texture will not be as smooth and luxurious.

5. Break

Hear the crisp snap of well tempered chocolate. Having well tempered chocolate means the chocolate is in its best condition and the texture will be optimal. In quality chocolate this will be smooth and non waxy.

sisko chocolate melbourne
Photo courtesy of Sisko Chocolate

6. Smell

We know that you're already salivating and can't wait to start. Let you nose do some sniffing before you park that piece of chocolate in your mouth. Rub the chocolate slightly with your fingers to help release the aroma. Are you smelling a floral, fruity, nutty or woody aroma?

7. Initial taste

Just as you would with wine, do not take a big mouthful of chocolate. Instead, place the piece in your mouth and wait a few seconds. Does in melt smoothly and evenly with no waxy texture? Allow it to melt and move around your mouth to experience the mouth feel.

sisko chocolate melbourne
Photo courtesy of Sisko Chocolate

8. Chew

Now chew the chocolate to release the second layer of flavors and aromas. You can taste the full profile of the chocolate by rolling it around you tongue. This triggers the 4 taste zones including sweet and salty (tip), sour (sides) and bitter (back). You will notice this most from single origin chocolates with similar cacao percentages from different regions like Brazil, Madagascar, Ecuador etc.

9. Finish

Good chocolate will leave a pleasant aftertaste in your mouth. What lingering flavours are you experiencing now? Are there tones of fruits, spices, tobacco, wood, floral etc.

sisko chocolate melbourne
Photo courtesy of Sisko Chocolate

Welcome to a more delicious world of fine chocolate. We hope these simple tips are useful and have heightened your enjoyment of chocolate. If you have challenges organising a tasting, buying the right chocolates or unsure of what you're experiencing, you can always join one of the chocolate appreciation sessions that Christina organises from time to time or just pop into her shop if you're in Melbourne. Sisko Chocolate is located at 330 Auburn Rd Hawthorn 3122, Phone 61 (03) 9818 5772, Website:
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