Carmel Magazine

Holiday l 2013

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044-045 Collecting_Layout 10/23/13 6:10 PM Page 1 COLLECTING B Y M A R J O R I E S N OW Superb Wine Accessories, Antique Tastevins and Wine Openers T he romance of wine starts with the twist of a Early wine was first stored in terra cotta containers, or amphoras, and corkscrew and the unleashing of the bottle's fragrant later in wooden barrels. Wine was never aged. It was transported direct- than 200 years ago by cellar masters in the Burgundy region of France, in the 18th century, glass wine bottles with narrow bottlenecks were contents. It is a sensual ritual, which was started more and remains today an experience that inspires the soul. Wine was tasted from a small shallow silver cup, with angular nooks and crannies, designed to catch and reflect the light and to make it easier to ly from the wine cellar to the table before it had a chance to spoil. Early created which made airtight wine storage possible. Wine could now be safely aged. The English were said to be the first to seal wine bottles using a cork, check the clarity of the liquid in candle-lit cellars, without having to lug usually imported from Spain or Portugal. In order to extract the cork from Tastevins, tasse a vin, in French, vin meaning wine and tasse meaning cup, of the corkscrew, as they had crafted similar tools called "steel worms" to heavy barrels into the light. has a rather romantic history as a symbol of wine tasting, and, as far back as the 14th century, served as tasting vessels to wine professionals. A trav- elling wine merchant would carry his tastevin in his pocket to be taken out and used to taste wines before purchasing them. Silver was the desired metal as it would reflect the true color and density of the wine and would not interfere with the taste. In our modern world of wine, the bottle, the first corkscrews emerged. Gunsmiths were the first makers clean the barrel of muskets back in the 1600s. These steel worms originated as a simple twist of iron with a finger Our taste for good wine has captured an audience of collectors who seek out these antique accessories that have played an important role in the celebration of wine. pull. They later morphed into elab- orate designs in figural shapes of animals, grapes, guns and women's legs. Materials ranged from silver to bone to enameled finishes, and are eagerly sought after by collectors today. Early wine openers have gone at auction for as high as $12,000 to as these rare and desirable collector's pieces are no longer used, but remain little as $5 at a flea market. The hunt is exciting once the desire for own- a chain or ribbon around their neck. Some have one or two handles with The next time you uncork a bottle of wine, stop to take a look at its as a symbol for the sommelier, and sometimes can be seen hanging from ership hits the collecting pulse. intertwined snakes; others none at all. Others have a coin pattern imbed- clarity in your glass and smell the fragrance of its bouquet, as wine is alive allows for dating their place in history. and is survived by the early vessels, glasses, and accessories that share the ded in the bowl, and the finest bear the hallmarks of their makers, which The most tastevins were produced in France, though few were made and antique ones today are expensive. Seventeenth century tastevins can range from $1,500-3,000 at auction, while later pieces can still be found in antique shops for under $200. 44 C ARMEL M AG A Z I N E • H O L I D AY 2013 and tastes different on any given day. This centuries-old ritual exists today, spotlight with the fine wine itself. Our taste for good wine has captured an audience of collectors who seek out these antique accessories that have played an important role in the celebration of wine. From their humble materials made in the 16th

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