Inside Rating Systems
Posted in: Tasting Notes
Lots of good points! I have *definitely* found that tasting the same chocolate at different times of day, in different surroundings, etc. affects the sense perceptions. Expectations also play a big part; I don't care much for the tasting notes I find on wrappers, and I usually get different results. Wybauw (in Fine Chocolates) makes the point that there is no such thing as an objective tasting. When your environment is positive, and your mood is good, you are more likely to enjoy something, and vice versa. In this sense, I think a chocolate's finish, snap, etc. are relevant, though secondary. Even package design. Intellectually they seem separate, but they definitely come into play in creating the impressions you get when you taste. One point I haven't seen brought up much (ok, I haven't exactly looked) is the thickness of a molded bar. Snapping a piece of a thin lil' Amedei bar and tasting it is a very different experience for me than..say, Dagoba? You know, one of the thicker, squatter bars.
The great subjectivity involved makes me shy away from a numerical rating system. Such a small snapshot can't convey much information, and complexity is the watchword of fine chocolate. I used to be more good/bad oriented, but as I worked with chocolate more my viewpoint changed. A chocolate I love to eat can be useless in a ganache. So is that a 5 or a 10? Some chocolate tastes like old leather, but that might be just what you want for a certain application. I prefer the flavor wheel that Felchlin uses (Chloe Doutre-Roussel has one like it in her book, as well). It gives you an idea what you're in for, and lets you decide for yourself how you feel about it. I guess I would add a section for Bland, though, to allow for the many chocolates that are.