The famous Scottish novelist, poet, and writer Robert Louis Stevenson once remarked that “wine is bottled poetry”. The taste of the fermented, aged grapes is nuanced and, just like a poem, there are layers of meaning that can be uncovered if the connoisseur is willing to take a few moments to pause, reflect, and appreciate the wine. Here at The Very Lovely Sauce Company, we believe that the same rings true for our sauces — the more you taste our gooey, sweet sauces, the more you are able to appreciate the balance, body, blend, and aroma of each sauce.
So, where to begin? Well, at Team Sauce HQ, we started with the visuals (as well as essential tasting equipment – see image). The sauces all have a smooth, silky, and rich appearance — perhaps unsurprising for a caramel sauce!
From there, we progressed to the aroma of each sauce. This is key to a full and nuanced appreciation — it is our olfactory abilities that allow us to discern the subtleties of the flavours contained within each sauce. Did you know that your brain can only identify scents of which you have a prior memory? As a result, when tasting our sauces with friends or family members you will inevitably come up with a plethora of different responses — and that is part of the fun! So, Sauce Sommeliers, close your eyes, and let the aroma of the sauce waft around your nostrils. This will, without doubt, enhance your tasting experience!
We found that the ‘aroma’ or ‘nose’ of each sauce was underpinned by a buttery note, but then overlaid with a certain je ne sais quoi. The Gingerbread sauce was reminiscent of pepparkakor (Swedish ginger biscuits), more depth than a simple ginger nut, but nonetheless reminiscent of elevenses with your grandparents. In contrast, the Hickory Smoked sauce was somewhat evocative of a freshly brewed mug of lapsang souchong — it packed a punch, and was bold in character. The Lemongrass sauce had a lighter aroma, with fresh citrus notes cutting across the sweet and buttery undertones of the sauce. The other sauces (Himalayan Pink Salted, Simply Caramel, and Liquorice) were more reserved at this stage of the tasting; their complexity of flavour came to the fore later in the process.
By this point, our stomachs were groaning for a taste of caramel goodness, and it was time to begin the final stage of the process: tasting. Yum. We would recommend that you taste your sauces in this order, since the bolder and more lingering flavours will otherwise cloud your palette and preclude you from appreciating the subtle flavours of the other sauces. So, begin with Simply Caramel, progress to Himalayan Pink Salted, then enjoy the Gingerbread, cleanse your palette with the Lemongrass, pack a punch with the Hickory Smoked, and conclude with the Liquorice. We contemplated a variety of different aspects of the flavour: top notes, lingering notes, balance, body, blend, and palette. Oh, and we would recommend that you have a glass of water to sip from between each sauce — you want a clean and clear palette before you commence each course!
The Simply Caramel sauce was full bodied and rounded in flavour, with a buttery base and a sensitively sweet top note. No more needs to be said. Simply delicious, and simply caramelly.
The Himalayan Pink Salted sauce has all these fantastic attributes, but with an additional dimension. We loved the delightful dichotomy between the sweet and salty notes, which tantalised our taste buds and left us diving in for a second spoonful.
Next up was the Gingerbread sauce, an award-winning favourite — and we can see why! The delicately balanced spices in the sauce left a lingering warmth in the mouth, reminiscent of licking out a bowl of delicious gingerbread batter in your childhood. This sauce was rich, full-bodied, and spicy and we can’t rave about it enough. One of the individuals on our tasting panel said that this flavour evoked a ‘house in the forest’ — escapism, childhood memories, and winter getaways. This sauce will truly transport you to a happy place!
In contrast, the Lemongrass sauce was lighter — fresh, tangy, and sharp — and the citrusy notes cut through the sweetness of the caramel. Whilst this flavour combination might surprise you, it really is delicious and is reminiscent of lemon sherbets: sweet, sugary, and yet tangy. Lovely! One of our tasters at Team Sauce said that this flavour made him feel like he was in “spring fields”. If this hopeful and positive image is not incentive enough to try this flavour, then what is?
The penultimate flavour was the Hickory Smoked sauce. The strong scent of this sauce throws your mind back to beach bonfires and barbecues, and the flavour upon tasting does not disappoint. The punchy, smoky flavour is perfectly balanced, and is complemented by the sweet and silky caramel base. For those friends who claim that they do not have a sweet tooth, this sauce is perfect — the sweetness of the caramel is somewhat offset, and it works well with both savoury and sweet dishes.
And last, but by no means least, our tasting was concluded with the Liquorice sauce. This dark root is pretty divisive; it is a love-hate flavour. However, even for those liquorice sceptics amongst us, we would really implore you to try this sauce. It has subtle woody notes that sneak in modestly at the end that make the sauce sing, and really is simply delicious.
Anyone can be a sauce sommelier — there are no prerequisites or qualifications, simply that you have a sweet tooth, a good sense of humour and are willing to immerse yourself in the smells, tastes, and sensations of caramel sauce tasting.
We would love to hear your thoughts and reflections. Please do write down your tasting notes and tag us on social media with #saucesommelier…. there may even be prizes for exceptional entries!