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Le Tastevin | The Wine Virgin
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Le Tastevin

March 10, 2008

Will you please explain what a “le tastevin” is? Recently, I went to a very nice restaurant and I noticed what seemed to be a silver cup like ash tray thing hanging around the sommelier’s neck. I asked him what it was and he simply pointed at it with a look of pride and said le tastevin! What the hell is it and what is it used for? Thanks. - Katie in Lake Charles, LA

Wow, I have never quite heard a tastevin or “le tastevin” as your sommelier calls it, described in such a straight forward way. You’re right, come to think of it, it does look sort of like a strange ash tray or how about a miniature urn? The “bling” in which he so proudly pointed to was actually a curious bit of history.

Wine trivia can be so captivating… you see Katie, a tastevin is simply a wine-tasting cup. Long ago, cellar masters created this to sample wines deep down in a cellar, where it was dark and lit only by candle light. As far as the odd shape of the cup itself, it was designed to catch and reflect the little light that was available to make it easier to check the color and clarity of the wine.

Nowadays, there is really no practical use for the tastevin and it is mainly seen as a badge of honor among many sommeliers. If you’re curious to pick one up, look online because a number of wine shops will actually carry them and if you happen to go back to that restaurant and encounter the same guy… look at his cup and give him a knowing smile. Cheers!!

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