What is the Cupbearers Council of France?Version française du site

The Cupbearer Council of France is a bacchic Brotherhood. Its aim is to promote and defend French wines as well as the traditions related to table art and the pleasure of food. Its members commit themselves to respect its traditions and owe to each other courtesy and mutual aid. It is also their duty to observe all articles of the Cup Bearer’s oath.

With the other brotherhoods, The Cupbearer Council of France establishes itself as keeper of the traditions and heritage as well of know-how, in its desire to develop knowledge as well as celebrate, joyfully and with conviviality, the quality of wine.
The Brotherhood is a member of the “Fédération Internationale des Confréries Bachiques” (International Federation of Bacchic Brotherhoods), aka F.I.C.B., the head office of which is located at The  Paris Wine Museum

A bit of History

The Cupbearer Council of France is the heir to the traditions of  Middle Ages brotherhoods, wine growers as well as other professional trades, which grouped together to form BROTHERHOODS

. Today, linked with a specific production zone ( (local soil)) or controlled appelation , brotherhoods, called bacchic or vinous, brought together professionals, as well as amateurs willing to defend the fame and the uniqueness of wine produce. They can be identified through their costumes, their insignia and their Induction ceremony rituals which constitutes references to the past history and epicurean traditions.

Echansons

A costume of cupbearer

The Cupbearer Council of France  created in 1954, includes several hundred members, Professionals of the wine trade, as well as amateur wine tasters, in various parts of the world. In the French provinces, as well as in foreign Countries, it relies on permanent representations which ensure its local influence.

According to the tradition, the cupbearer serves the drinks. In the French Kings court, this function was very early exerted only by trustworthy men of noble extraction.

In the Middle Ages, the King’s House included seven Crown Grand Officers, including the Grand Bouteiller (Cellar and Bottles keeper) and the Grand Echanson (Cup Bearer). These high dignitaries are responsible for wine supply as well as meals and royal banquets organization.

The Grand Echanson or Echanson de France personally serves the king during the four major celebrations : Easter, Pentecost, All Saint’s Day and Christmas. During the Eighteenth century in Versailles, for the Louis XIV’s Grand Couvert (formal meals), the honorary king’s beverages service is provided for each quarter (i.e. during three consecutive months), by the same Officers.

Blood princes as well as rich noblemen will also see to be served by noble Cup Bearers.

une scène du musée du vin

A scene in the Wine Museum

As keepers of the tradition, the members of the Conseil des Echansons de France embody the know-how and experience of their illustrious predecessors. Their vocation is to see to the maintaining of the quality which made French wines world famous. With this aim in view, they organize in Paris, in the French provinces and in foreign countries prestige events which contribute to the reputation of the most authentic products from our vineyards.

In the Paris Wine Museum, headquarters of the brotherhood, they celebrate the traditional festivals and, for these occasions, members wear their ceremonial dresses and proceed to the ceremony of acceptance for new members of the  Brotherhood, according to the traditional ritual. The joyful meals or banquets which follow those  ceremonies constitute special moments when the art of entertainment illustrates the difficult harmony between wines and dishes.

The Wine Museum, Caveau des Echansons de France, thus became a center for celebrating wine, a symbol or life and culture.