A taste for detail


Oh honey honey

Sudarshan Rao (Honey)

It was a few years in the past in Mizoram, when Sudarshan Rao lost his method that he discovered his course. "I stopped at a small shop to ask for directions, when I saw a glass jar filled with what looked like liquid sunshine. It turned out to be the most exquisite honey I had ever tasted."

In 2016, Rao, who holds levels in meals and agriculture, went into the honey trade. He now manufactures his personal logo and runs honey-tasting workshops in Bengaluru. "Most honeys are multi-floral, which means the bees have been taking nectar from several varieties of flowers. Honey makers are now trying to create single-flower honeys because each one has a distinct taste," says the 42-year-old. The jujube flower honey is viscous and dar\k amber, Indian borage honey is thinner, extra golden in colour and minty; honey from a neem flower is fruity.

"Honey tasting is tricky," says Rao. "You cannot swirl and spit like wine. You have to swallow it, and taking in too much can be sickening." Tasters want to move from lighter, less sweet honeys to the extra viscous ones. "Also, you need to taste a small amount and keep it on the back of the tongue. After swallowing, one needs to tap the tongue on the roof of the mouth so the taste lingers," he says, adding that one must sip on heat water in between.

Cuppa complexities

Sunalini Menon (Coffee)

It was the swirling and spitting more than the tasting, confesses Sunalini Menon, which got her involved in turning into a coffee sommelier. But after 40 years of coffee cupping, Asia’s first certified lady taster says the cuppa with all its complexities continues to fascinate her. "How many have I tasted" exclaims the 70-year-old. "Well, some days I would taste up to 100 cups, so I’ve lost count."

At a coffee championship, Menon recalls tasting such a lot of cups of espresso that she couldn’t sleep. "The only remedy is reading, and sipping hot water and green tea."

Menon, a former director of high quality keep an eye on for the Coffee Board of India, who runs Coffeelab Ltd in Bengaluru, says the Indian client has developed over the last twenty years. "Coffee used to be drunk with just milk and sugar, and described only as strong, weak, or watery. Today, consumers have learned to appreciate the espresso, know their hot brews from their cold, their pour overs and so on."

While Menon still loves her scorching espressos, she just lately found out the fun of cold brew — medium roast filter coffee in a muslin bag, positioned in a bowl of room temperature water, seeped for 12 hours, and drunk with a marginally of jaggery and a sliver of an orange peel.

Raising the bar

L Nitin Chordia (Chocolate)

Five years and 1,500 goodies later, L Nitin Chordia admits that he's in a sweet spot. With restaurants, inns, startups and global manufacturers amongst his clientele, the primary certified chocolate taster in India is all set to release a professional certification course in Chennai.

"Being a chocolate taster is becoming mainstream and is lucrative, with chocolate makers and companies needing professionals for product development," says the former retail consultant who decided to make chocolate his trade years in the past. Since then, it has been his precedence to cut down the fats and raise the health bar. "I get a lot of fat from the chocolates I taste," says Chordia. "Physical fitness matters, because if I have a cold or cough, my ability to taste will be compromised."

Holding the chocolate, snapping off a work and letting it melt in your mouth – the entirety tells you something. "If it is 70% dark chocolate, it has to be a particular shade," he says. "The way it snaps indicates whether it has been tempered properly." The best tasting portion, 1gm, is put at the palate and left to soften. A brief aftertaste or an overly dry palate after tasting manner the chocolate is not of significant high quality.

It’s important to wash the palate when tasting goodies. "We do that by taking half a spoonful of polenta — sooji rava boiled with water — swirling it around the tongue, gulping it down and waiting for 10 minutes before the next tasting," says Chordia, adding that India is about for a cocoa prime.

"This is the tipping point for the profession in India. It is a big market, the potential is huge and we have just only got started," says Chordia, who has partnered with the International Institute of Fine Chocolate and Cocoa Tasting (IICT), UK, to offer the Chocolate Tasters Certification course this June.

In good spirits

Chinmaya Arjun Raja (Wine)

The international of fine wine is made up of many crafts. And that’s why while you meet a sommelier like Chinmaya Arjun Raja, you wish to have to learn no less than one. Why you will have to hold the glass by means of the stem or the bottom and not the bowl. "The warmth of your palm can alter the wine’s temperature and taste," says Raja, who visited his first vineyard in 2000 while on a scholarship to France.


"The family I was staying with, went from one tasting session to another, swirled their glasses and spoke about flavours, as I sat watching them oblivious and intoxicated," says Raja. But these days, after a number of wine tasting lessons, sessions and learning the expertise from one of the most easiest winemakers and sommeliers, Raja can tell a good wine by means of conserving it up towards the sunshine. "What characterises good wine is balance — of sweetness, acidity, tannins and fruity flavour. We swirl the wine before taking a sip to release its aroma. For accuracy, you’re discouraged from wearing perfume at tastings."


The subsequent step is to grasp the color and viscosity of the wine. "From the first sip you get to know its texture and flavours. Finally, we compare the different characteristics of every wine we taste and make notes," he says. "Forty to 50 wines down, your tongue turns numb. Having crackers or non-greasy, hard cheeses cleanses the palate."


(Compiled by means of Kamini Mathai, Priya M Menon, and Saranya Chakrapani)


A taste for detail A taste for detail Reviewed by kailash soni on April 09, 2018 Rating: 5
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