The Court of Master Sommeliers has issued the following press release about developments regarding the recent MS tasting exam. While GuildSomm is not directly affiliated with the CMS, we want to share this important news for the wine community here. We know this was an incredibly difficult decision for the Court, but we appreciate efforts to protect the integrity of CMS titles and exams and to ensure that exams remain fair for all of those who sit.
October 9, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:Kathleen Lewis(707) 255-5056 x11, firstname.lastname@example.org
Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas Board of Directors Takes Unanimous Actions to Preserve Integrity of Examination Process
NAPA, Calif. – The Board of Directors of the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas unanimously voted to invalidate the results of the tasting portion of the 2018 Master Sommelier Diploma Examination for all candidates due to clear evidence that a Master breached the confidentiality with respect to the wines presented for tasting.
“Maintaining the integrity of the examination process must be our highest priority, lest we risk diminishing the value of, and the respect earned from, becoming a Master Sommelier,” said Devon Broglie, MS, Chairman of the Board. “Our credential is known throughout the hospitality industry worldwide, and it guarantees that the holder of the Master Sommelier title is among the most qualified of all wine industry professionals. A compromised examination does not provide that guarantee."
The Board of Directors found sufficient evidence that the tasting portion of the 2018 Master Sommelier Diploma Examination was compromised by the release of detailed information concerning wines in the tasting flight. The Board unanimously voted to fully void those results to protect the integrity of not only the examination process but also the reputation of the Court of Master Sommeliers and the title Master Sommelier.
“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,” Broglie said. “We are committed to developing an expedited process so that all eligible candidates can retake the tasting examination."
The Board of Directors has barred the Master involved from participating in any Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas programs or events and has voted unanimously to initiate the process of terminating membership pursuant to the organization’s bylaws.
“Our honor and integrity are the best safeguards for preserving the reputation of the Court of Master Sommeliers, our members, and our industry as a whole,” Broglie said.
ABOUT THE COURT OF MASTER SOMMELIERS, AMERICAS
The Court of Master Sommeliers was established in England in 1977 to encourage improved standards of beverage knowledge and service in hotels and restaurants. The first Master Sommelier Diploma Exam to be held in the United States was in 1987. The title Master Sommelier marks the highest recognition of wine and spirits knowledge, beverage service abilities, and professionalism in the hospitality trade. Education was then, and remains today, the Court’s charter.
There are four stages involved in attaining the top qualifications of Master Sommelier: 1) Introductory Sommelier Examination; 2) Certified Sommelier Examination; 3) Advanced Sommelier Examination; and 4) Master Sommelier Diploma Examination. For more information, please visit www.mastersommeliers.org.
Michael. Just Stop.
One needs to look no further than the study guides and review questions that follow here on GuildSomm to get a sense of what degree of knowledge might be expected for various levels of examination. The distributors handing out "sample" exams that you speak of give no more advantage than anyone with a thirst for knowledge that is registered as a member here, or cares enough to open the Wine Atlas.
Examples of examination questions, wines, or service scenarios, are barometers of preparation and a means for muscle memory. Nothing can replicate the environment or pressure of 25 minutes to describe 6 wines in front of 3 Masters on a reset year, or any other aspect of the exam.
One ex-Master screwed this up for everyone. Whoever chose to take advantage of it, if they did, that is on them. I'll vouch for every one of the other 23 until I learn otherwise.
So if as we are hearing now that an MS gave the lineup to two candidates, are those two going to be allowed to sit again?
What's going to be fascinating is the fact that there will be some Master Sommeliers that will have a distinction of having passed the exam twice technically speaking. It's disappointing but an interesting thought I had when I read the article in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Love you Vince. I agree just know we are all here to help in any way we can.
Obviously, most of us don't know the inside baseball here...but I want to say THANK YOU to whoever it is behind the scenes with the integrity to correct this screwed up situation. And my heart is heavy for all the people who earned it the right way.
As terrible as this is, one should focus on his/her body of work. A test, exam, initials, whatever, does not matter one iota. There are countless wine professionals who have worked in some of the finest restaurants, hotels, retailers, importers and are defined by their work. Not a title. If the focus is just a title, a pin. That's a sad case, way more to life. There is way more to this industry than a pin, and a pin does not define who you are. It sucks for the folks that passed the exam truthfully. No shame in taking it again, just a bummer that there's an asterisk. Perhaps all folks that pass again should be know as double downers! They loved the exam so much that they wanted more of it! Perhaps it was too easy? j/k... All things being equal, totally blows. At the end of the day, the sun will rise tomorrow and a fresh start for all. Life goes on. I know. Be appreciative and grateful for what you have in your life. Remember, it's just vino.
As heartbroken as I am for my friends that passed recently and now have to deal with this and knowing that I can't speak for those who give the test, any test can be cheated if those who give it or take it don't have integrity. This test has been honed by some of the best in the industry for many, many years. It is always evolving, but I don't think needs to be recreated because of a few bad apples. The way this problem is being handled should in and of itself give faith in the integrity of the process.
I'll just get to drink twice as much champagne with my industry buddies when they pass again!
How devastating for all who took it and passed. Seriously, what a crap move on that EX-MS part.
WOW completely stunned.
If it happened once, how do we know it has not happened before?
I certainly hope not, but to be complete in thinking about this the question should be considered.
Regardless, a truly character-revealing move.
I wonder if any of the Masters administering the tests could tell that some of the answers were given too easily. (How do you know what it tastes like? You haven’t put it to your mouth!)
Does it merit a mention that this happened when 24 people passed?
I can understand this line of thinking. The numbers have never been this high. However, the number of people sitting and having sections under their belt has never been higher. The Somm Documentary caused the biggest influx of interest in the history of the court. As it generally takes at least 5 years to get to the point that you can take the exam, it’s not surprising at all that we have had so many pass. Having studied for the past 2 years with 3 of the candidates that passed, I got to know their passion, their dedication and their character. There is no chance they would have colluded. It is not worth it on a professional or personal level. I’m deeply saddened for them, and all others that were not involved in this scandal.
As an impartial observer who did not participate in this exam and is not close with anyone who took it: This decision is wrong.
It's the responsibility of the CMS to ensure the integrity of their exams, not those taking the exam. This is a decision taken by the CMS to protect their own reputation at the cost of the time, money, and reputation of the candidates who took the exam, despite the fact that it was one of their own who compromised the exam. It's selfish and potentially ruinous to the careers of those who passed the exam legitimately but don't have the time, money, and luck to re-take the exam and pass. The CMS made the blunder, the CMS should bear the brunt of it, not the candidates.
I hear you and appreciate your attempt to raise spirits. The title DOES matter. Very much. The Master Sommelier pin absolutely does define who you are; it is a symbol of mastery and it is rare and precious. It costs some all-marriages, jobs, friends. And to earn it and have it taken away when you are DONE, FINISHED must be devastating.