New Master Sommeliers lose title after tasting exam ‘compromised’
A confidentiality breach during one of the taste tests that comprises the notoriously tough Master Sommelier exams means that several candidates have had their pass grades revoked pending re-takes.
‘Detailed information’ on wines forming part of last month’s tasting exam was leaked, said the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Americas division yesterday (9 October).
It said that the results of the tasting portion of the 2018 Master Sommelier Diploma Examination would be annulled.
Although candidates would be allowed to re-sit the exam, the move effectively stripped 23 Master Sommeliers of their newly-earned title – even if temporarily. A 24th candidate who recently became an MS, Morgan Harris, would be allowed to keep the pin badge because he did his tasting exam last year, according to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle.
As depicted in the film Somm, the tasting exam is notoriously daunting for MS hopefuls. It involves blind tasting six wines in 25 minutes.
The Court said that its board of directors voted unanimously to invalidate the results from the test, which had been taken the first week of September.
This followed ‘sufficient evidence’ that the tasting exam ‘was compromised by the release of detailed information concerning wines in the tasting flight’, the Court said. It did not name anyone as responsible for breaking the rules.
‘We understand this decision is a shock to those who recently passed this examination, and we carefully considered the impact our decision has on our newly pinned Masters and their careers,’ said Devon Broglie, MS, chairman of the board.
‘We are committed to developing an expedited process so that all eligible candidates can retake the tasting examination. Maintaining the integrity of the examination process must be our highest priority.’
The affected sommeliers were advised earlier this week of the breach and of the board’s decision, just one month after celebrating their new titles in what Broglie had earlier dubbed ‘the most successful Master Sommelier Diploma Examination the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas has ever administered’ at the time.
Editing by Chris Mercer and Eleanor Douglas.