While the Tastevin is no longer an essential tool for everyday wine tasting, it continues to be used ceremoniously in certain contexts. Some sommeliers and wine aficionados value its role in formal tastings or special events where the historical aspect adds a touch of authenticity.

How to use a sommeliers’ cup

Using a tastevin involves pouring a small amount of wine into the cup, bringing it close to your nose to assess aroma, taking a sip to savor flavor and texture, and deciding whether to swallow or spit. Throughout the tasting, consider the wine’s appearance, aroma, flavor, texture, and potential defects to gain a comprehensive understanding of its characteristics.

As you taste and evaluate the wine, consider various aspects:

  • Appearance: Assess the color and clarity, taking note of any sediment.
  • Aroma: Pay attention to the scents and aromas, identifying different notes.
  • Flavor: Analyze the taste, noting the primary and secondary flavors.
  • Texture: Evaluate the wine’s mouthfeel, considering factors like acidity and tannins.
  • Defects: Watch for any potential defects or off-putting qualities in the wine.

Historical Significance

The Tastevin has a rich history, dating back to the wine cellars of Burgundy, France, where it originated. In the dimly lit wine cellars, sommeliers needed a tool that could help them assess the color, clarity, and viscosity of the wine without relying solely on ambient light. The reflective surface of the Tastevin’s shallow cup allowed them to see the wine’s characteristics more clearly.

Shape and Design

Tastevins are typically made of silver, which enhances their reflective properties. The shallow cup has a diameter of about 2 to 3 inches, and the raised edge contains several small, circular marks or studs. These marks serve as reference points for assessing the color and clarity of the wine.

Assessing Wine Characteristics

The primary function of the Tastevin is to assist in the visual examination of wine. When a small amount of wine is poured into the cup, the reflective surface helps magnify the color, allowing the sommelier to evaluate its intensity and nuances. The marks on the raised edge aid in assessing the wine’s clarity, providing information about sediment or impurities.

Examining Legs and Viscosity

As the sommelier tilts the Tastevin, they can observe the wine’s “legs” or “tears” – the rivulets that form and run down the inside of the cup. This characteristic can indicate the wine’s viscosity and alcohol content. Slow, thick legs might suggest a higher alcohol content or more significant glycerol levels.

Functional in Low Light

The design of the Tastevin makes it particularly useful in low-light conditions, such as candlelit cellars or dimly lit tasting rooms. By tilting the cup to catch the available light, sommeliers can glean valuable insights into the wine’s appearance that might be challenging to perceive in standard glassware.

Symbol of Tradition and Expertise

Beyond its practical uses, the Tastevin has become a symbol of tradition and expertise in the world of wine. Many sommeliers and wine enthusiasts appreciate the historical and cultural significance of using such a traditional tool. It represents a connection to the roots of winemaking and a respect for the time-honored methods employed by those who have come before.

In conclusion, the Sommelier’s cup or Tastevin is a small yet significant tool with a rich history in the world of wine. Its design, marked by a shallow reflective cup, serves practical purposes in visually assessing wine characteristics, especially in low-light conditions. Beyond its functionality, the Tastevin embodies tradition and expertise, making it a cherished symbol in the culture of wine appreciation. Whether used for its intended purpose or displayed as a piece of history, the Tastevin remains a fascinating and enduring element in the world of wine.