University Museums

Title: Wine Taster
Name: Wine Taster
Date: c. 1765
Medium: Porcelain
Country/Culture: English
Dimensions: 2 × 3 1/8 in. (5.1 × 7.9 cm)
Classification: Decorative Arts, Ceramics
Credit Line: Gift of Ann and Henry Brunnier. In the Ann and Henry Brunnier Collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Object Number: 2.8.62
More Information
The Worcester Royal Porcelain Factory stands alone in England as being able to boast uninterrupted production since its beginning in 1751. Early Worcester wares were inspired equally by Chinese porcelain and contemporary silver. Forms based on Chinese porcelain were primarily thrown on a pottery wheel, while silver- inspired wares, like this wine tasting cup, were molded.

This wine tasting cup is designed in the likeness of "famille verte," enameled Chinese porcelain made during the reign (1622-1722) of Emperor Kang Xi. The English had a strong affinity for Asian-inspired wares, as is reflected in the naturalistic treatment of the twig handle and base which appear to be cradling the bowl. A good example of form following function, the design of the wine tasting cup is deliberate and directly associated with its utilization. With the cup shaped to rest securely in the palm of the hand, the cup's contents can be actively swirled while the raised floral design near the bottom of the interior breaks up the wine, releasing its aroma. The interior of the cup is also white, allowing the taster to better see the wine's color and clarity.