Chocolate taste description


The ‘Consumer Chocolate Sensory Wheel’ helps in describing chocolate and cocoa taste, aroma & mouthfeel.  It allows discussing chocolate tasting experiences with uniform sensory language.







Let’s talk TASTE

Everyone loves chocolate, but how to describe your chocolate taste experience? How to find words for a proper chocolate taste description? How to do justice to the complexity and richness of chocolate when talking about taste?

The sensory language in our ‘Consumer Chocolate Sensory Wheel’ is based on a new book ‘Hidden Persuaders in Cocoa & Chocolate - A Flavor Lexicon for Cocoa and Chocolate Sensory Professionals’, written by our Global R&D Sensory Methodologies Manager Renata Januszewska, with input from Barry Callebaut’s team of chocolate & cocoa scientists & specialists and leading global flavor house Givaudan. It is the first serious attempt rooted in science to create a sensory language for the chocolate industry.



How does it work?

The easy to navigate wheel offers a layered overview of all relevant chocolate and cocoa aromas, taste and mouthfeel.

  • First inner layer covers 5 basic taste descriptors, 12 basic aroma descriptors and 10 mouthfeel descriptors.
  • Second outer layer goes beyond only applicable to identify what & better understand what is meant by f.e. vegetal aromas.

The mouthfeel - texture and trigeminal descriptors - captures the sensations we experience while tasting chocolate. It covers the attributes perceived with the first bite, during the tasting, when the chocolate is melting in your mouth, and after swallowing the chocolate. We selected 6 texture descriptors most relevant for consumers.

  • Does it feel hard? (at first bite)
  • Does it feel soft when chewing & moving? (during tasting)
  • What about the melting in the mouth? (during tasting)
  • And does it feel coarse, fine and creamy when melting? (during tasting)
Consumer Chocolate Sensory Wheel

Depending on the chocolate type, you would need 7 to 9 descriptors from the first inner layer of the wheel to get a clear picture of taste experience of a chocolate. So how to discribe chocolate?

For white chocolate it’s 7 descriptors:

  • Taste: sweetness
  • Aroma: dairy; milky & buttery, vanilla, caramel
  • Mouthfeel: creamy, melting

For milk chocolates - 8 descriptors:

  • Taste: sweetness  
  • Aroma: dairy; milky & buttery, vanilla, caramel, cocoa
  • Mouthfeel: creamy, melting.

For dark chocolates - 9 descriptors:

  • Taste: sweetness, sourness, bitterness  
  • Aroma: cocoa, roasted, fruity  
  • Mouthfeel: creamy, melting, astringent

For some chocolates - for example for single origin chocolates - fruity, vegetal, spicy and floral notes will become more prominent and important. For Ruby chocolate, sourness and red berry notes will become more prominent.

With chocolate sensory language we can describe chocolate and cocoa experiences much more in detail, like wine and coffee lovers already do. Seeing all the richness of chocolate taste, chocolate lovers and chocolate tasters around the world will appreciate it even more!


Discover how to taste chocolate