Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin
Originally founded in 1703 as the Ordre de la Boisson (Order of Beverage), and revived under its current name in 1934, the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin (translatable as Fraternity of Knights of the Wine-Tasting Cup) is an exclusive club of Burgundy wine enthusiasts. It is headquartered at the twelfth-century Château of Clos de Vougeot in the Côte d'Or region of France. It maintains chapters (called Sous-Commanderies) worldwide, but because of its Gallic origins, its name and many of its ceremonial titles are always maintained in French.
The Confrérie is governed by a Grand Conseil of Chevaliers. Its president is called the Grand-maître and its secretary is called the Grand connétable. In the U.S., the organization delegates authority to a Grand pilier, who is also assisted by a Grand connétable. Candidates for membership are approved by the Grand pilier or Grand connétable, and are confirmed by the Grand Conseil.
Members are hierarchically ranked (in descending order) as Grand officier, Officier-commandeur, Commandeur, and Chevalier. The Confrérie counts among its membership businessmen, luminaries, and celebrities, including politicians and military leaders, diplomats, executives, scholars, athletes, musicians, and artists. During initiation ceremonies, members wear ornate robes similar to the academic gowns worn by Doctors of Theology in sixteenth-century France.
The primary aims of the organization are "to hold in high regard and promote Burgundian produce, particularly her great wines and regional cuisine. To maintain and revive the festivities, customs and traditions of Burgundian folklore," and "to encourage people from all over the world to visit Burgundy."
The organization's activities are generally scheduled around elaborate chapter dinners and other culinary events, at which Burgundian wines are served (although sometimes other quality French wines are sampled). At these events it is customary for members to comment in detail about the history and characteristics of each wine or dish that is served, in order to promote "viticultural and gastronomic education".
The most important annual event of the Confrérie is the tasting of Burgundy wines, called "Tastevinage", at the Château de Vougeot, where those deemed worthy by a jury of tasters are awarded the title of "Tasteviné" and are permitted to use a special label on their bottles.