How to Be a Chocolate Snob

Can you be a chocolate snob? Why, yes, yes you can

We've all heard of wine snobs, food snobs, and even beer snobs. The concept of the chocolate snob may sound a little silly to those of us who just want to nom on the brown stuff, but let's get real. Any consumable item that comes in a range that includes "scandalously expensive" has its snobs. We've gone wine snobs, caviar snobs, cigar snobs, beer snobs. Why not chocolate too?

Let's be clear here. We happen to think that, beyond a certain point, dissecting chocolate flavors is like diagramming poetry. This is going a little too far. But that's just us. As chocolate lovers we can see the point of it, and the title of the site is, after all, Extreme Chocolate. So let's give it a whirl!

All righty then...

Perhaps your most common type of chocolate snob is the kind that Your Humble Writer must, reluctantly, admit to being. For some of us, the darker and more bittersweet the chocolate, the better (until of course we get to unsweetened baker's chocolate, whereupon all bets are off). Milk chocolate is boring.

The argument for dark high cacao chocolate often lies in the sugar content. Most chocolates, sadly enough, are more sugar and milk than chocolate; hence the lighter colors of those confections. If you get rid of some of the sugar and the other additives, you can actually taste the natural flavors of the chocolate.

A dedicated chocolate snob can even tell you what type of bean good chocolate comes from, assuming a blend of types isn't used (and even then, certain judgments can be made). Most aficionados insist that Criollo beans are the best, with their mellow, multilayered flavor.

Meanwhile, Nacional beans are similarly complex on the palate, and Trinitario can too, depending on the length of fermentation and roasting during processing. Forastero beans, from which about 80% of all chocolate is made, have a plainer, more bitter flavor than the other varieties. But hey, it's still chocolate.

Off the deep end...

If, as a chocolate snob, you want to approach the ostentation and pretense of the wine-swilling crowd with your chocolate flavor pronouncements, you're in luck! People have actually taken time out of their busy schedules to create chocolate "flavor wheels" to describe the various chocolate flavor notes they've detected.

While some of these flavor notes seem to be little iffy to us, at least you won't be turning silly and calling your chocolates "sassy" or "arrogant," like wine snobs do with their potables. The chocolate flavor note wheel is based on seven basic flavor types: vegetable, flowery, fruity, roasted, nutty, spicy, and miscellaneous.

So you think your chocolate tastes faintly of tobacco? Well, most chocolate snobs would put it in the "Roasted" category. Jasmine, rose, and orange blossom are all recognized "Flower" flavor tones. "Vegetable" notes like wood, mushrooms, moss, and fresh grass may also be detected.

As odd as some of these may be, it's the "Miscellaneous" category that really surprises. We can understand flavor notes like butter, milk, and honey, but apparently some chocolates have overtones of beeswax and leather. Well, can keep those.

Enough, we say. Chocolate is chocolate is chocolate, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, and is tasty in all its forms. You don't have to be a chocolate snob to understand that!