Paul Guerzon, a sommelier at SD26, shows off its tastevin. (Ryan Thatcher)
If you’ve eaten at SD26, you may have noticed employees dressed in suits and big silver necklaces. No, the upscale Italian restaurant is not channeling Flavor Flav.
The people are sommeliers, and the silver pendants that hang from their necks are tastevins, traditional silver cups used by winemakers and sommeliers in Europe to taste wine before it is served.
According to Stefano Milioni, SD26’s wine consultant, the sommeliers use the shallow tastevins to check a few things — color (color can tell if the wine’s too old), sediment, aroma (the half-moon shape and small ridges in the silver break the wine and make it easier to smell), and finally, the taste.
Tastevins, which originated in France, are made of silver, because unlike glass, the material doesn’t absorb wine.
According to owner Tony May, the Tastevins serve another unique purpose: “We did it so people would recognize the people who are sommeliers,” he said.
“It gives a sense of importance and prestige to a sommelier,” added Marisa May, Tony’s daughter and co-owner of SD26.
A more modern twist
While tastevins are a nod to tradition, SD26 also embraces modernity. An entirely digitalized wine list comes on a hand-held, touchscreen device, and automatic wine-dispensing machines (known as Enomatic machines) line the front wall.
“We stand for tradition, but we’re always evolving,” said Marisa May.