Friday, July 13, 2012

Artifact Spotlight:Chevalier du Tastevin Badge, c. 1947

---Jen Nason, Curatorial Assistant

Admiral H. Kent Hewitt, a 1929 graduate of the Naval War College, famously commanded U.S. Naval forces at the amphibious landings in North Africa and Southern France during the Second World War. As he played a central role in the Allied victory in Europe, he was decorated numerous times by the U.S. and Allied nations. He received the badge, pictured left, on May 14, 1947. However, this is not a medal relating to his distinguished military career. It honors the appreciation of Burgundy wine. On a trip to Paris in 1946, Admiral Hewitt was approached by his friend, Jacques Moreau and invited to become a member of Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin.  The fraternity, translated as Brotherhood of the Knights of Wine Tasting Cups, has roots in the early eighteenth century but was organized formally as the Confrérie in 1934. The purpose of the Confrérie is to celebrate the wine, food, and culture of the French region of Burgundy.  Moreau, a member of the group, was a vice admiral in the French navy who Hewitt befriended while stationed in Morocco in March, 1943. Hewitt recalled, “I said I would be honored, but having in mind that I might be asked to pass judgment on samples of wine, I doubted my ability to meet the test. [Moreau’s] reply was that my only test would be to go down into the [basement of chateau Clos du Vougeot] and know to enjoy what you drink.”

Hewitt receives his tastevin badge at a formal ceremony in
New York City.
Hewitt accepted the invitation and received his  certificate in November of 1946. The following May he attended a branch chapter meeting at New York City's Waldorf-Astoria hotel. After swearing to defend the wines of Burgundy and being dubbed on each shoulder with a the root of a Burgundy grapevine, Admiral Hewitt received his tastevin badge. The tastevin is a shallow silver cup used by wine tasters to test wines drawn from the casks in cellars. A taster may use it to judge the bouquet and color of the wine before sampling the contents.  The badge incorporates the silver cup suspended from a red and gold ribbon which symbolizes red and white wines. 
The certificate and tastevin are part of a large collection of Hewitt's medals, uniforms, and personal items at the museum. The Naval War College archives holds an equally impressive manuscript collection of Hewitt's personal papers, memoirs, appointments, and photographs. As a graduate, staff member, and advisor to the Naval War College, his service and accomplishments are emblamatic of the role of the college in United States Naval history.

Gift of Mrs. Floride Hewitt                                                                           73.01.23;51

Photograph, Naval Historical Collection. Naval War College Archives

1 comment:

  1. Such an intresting article, and so well written!

    ReplyDelete