This article was updated in October 2020 to reflect new reporting by the New York Times that reveals troubling accounts of sexual violence within the Court of Master Sommeliers of America (CMSa). Several CMSa members have spoken up to defend the institution; we have given them their own page here: Sommeliers Speak Out.

Is it time to say goodbye to the Court of Master Sommeliers? With eminent sommeliers quitting under protest and a wide array of accusations being leveled at the certification body, it’s time to consider the evidence. We’ve lain out what people in the wine industry are saying about the Court of Master Sommelier – Americas. These include issues surrounding racism, sexual violence, cheating, and political bias.

Do you think it’s time to boycott the Court of Master Sommeliers? Let us know in the comments. 

Alternatives to the Court

The CMSa is one of the larger sommelier certification agencies. Due to being featured in the movie SOMM, it became the most popular. There are equally good (and at least one better) sommelier certification bodies in the USA, so you can earn your sommelier pin with an agency that better aligns with your personal beliefs: Sommelier Certifications 101

boycott court of master sommeliers
Is it Time to Boycott The Court of Master Sommeliers?

The Court of Master Sommeliers has a Racism Problem

Tahiirah Habibi
Tahiirah Habibi

“In order to speak, you need to call me master”

A Master Sommelier Examiner to Tahiirah Habibi

Tahiirah has recently published a heartbreaking recollection of blatant racism within the Court of Master Sommeliers.  We strongly recommend you listen to how the Court of Master Sommeliers nearly destroyed her love of wine and then callously exploited her.

It is unacceptable that in some CMSA circles there has been rhetoric around not being a political organization and wanting to remain neutral. There is no neutral. By doing nothing, one passively endorses the status quo — and the status quo for BIPOC in America has been, and remains, horrible.

Richard Betts, former master sommelier

Such accusations have been lingering for a long time. Currently, fewer than 1% of all Master Sommeliers are black.

Diversity has long been an issue for the Court of Master Sommeliers, which skews the same way as most of the wine industry: male, and white. The problem, it seems, may not merely be about demographics.

Alder Yarrow, Vinography.

When confronted with supporting Black Lives Matter, the board opted to stay silent.

Rania Zayyat, a sommelier in Austin, Texas, said the court’s system of examinations reinforces racism and sexism… In internal forums, members were roughly divided between the old guard, who felt that sommeliers should stay out of politics, and younger members who were furious that the court wouldn’t express support for its Black members and racial justice.

JULIA MOSKIN, NEW YORK TIMES

The Court of Master Sommeliers has a Sexual Violence Problem

We have had countless articles and two bestselling books that outline a disturbing and deeply ingrained culture of sexual violence within the sommelier world in the past several years. Recently, the New York Times has released a report detailing widespread sexual violence at the very top of the CMSa.

Twenty-one women told The New York Times that they have been sexually harassed, manipulated, or assaulted by male master sommeliers. They, and other current and former members of the court, say the abuse is a continuing problem of which its leadership has long been aware.

Julia Moskin, New York Times

One student said a master sommelier in Texas asked her for a pair of her underwear “to snuggle with.” Several said the slur “sommsucker” is used for women who have relationships with members of the court. And one woman said she was raped by a prominent master sommelier in New York City after meeting him at a wine event.

JULIA MOSKIN, NEW YORK TIMES

These are just a few of the numerous allegations of sexual assault by senior members of the Court of Master Sommeliers, as documented by the New York Times.

I no longer spend much time with the sommelier community because I find much of that culture to be toxic…For so long, I’d been obsessed with being part of this community of snobby, older (often white) men that just didn’t want me to join.

Victoria James, author of Wine Girl in an interview with SevenFifty

In her book, James states that a restaurant owner raped her in the wine cellar. “I was young and insecure and thought that this was what women went through.” She is far from the only wine author to level alarming accusations. Bianca Bosker, the bestselling author of the book Cork Dork, recalled numerous examples of sexual violence and inappropriate behavior. She also pointed out that the restaurant industry accounts for more sexual harassment complaints than any other industry.

There was the blind tasting instructor who cracked off-color sexual double-entendres, nicknaming people who discussed a wine before savoring it “premature ejaculators,” or wondering“Did someone touch you inappropriately?” after a female classmate exclaimed at a wine’s aroma. There was the very senior sommelier who offered to let me stay in his “big” hotel room — not that I’d asked — and another who, while drunk, escalated from awkward attempts at flirting to full-out groping, despite knowing I was married.

Bianca Bosker, A Sommelier Opens Up About The Truly Gross Sexism She’s Faced In The Wine World, Refinery29

It doesn’t help that only 16% of all Master Sommeliers and only 14% of its board of directors are female. With women being the largest segment of wine consumers, it’s long past time for this to change.

I’ve come to understand that those by-laws have evolved in such a manner as to effectively prevent all but the old guard from running for the board of directors which is responsible for shaping policy. This is not the stance of a progressive or inclusive organization, it’s one of protectionism affording no reasonable opportunity for change.

Richard Betts, MS

We call on the court to bring in a board of directors that more accurately reflects the community they serve and that must include women and black and indigenous people of color.

The Court of Master Sommeliers has a Republican Problem

Just because a Master Sommelier is a Republican or is employed by one is not a cause to boycott the Court. Nor do we think it’s a problem if a Master Sommelier is a financial donor to the Republican party.  Everyone has the right to their own beliefs.

However, the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas is a nonprofit agency that claims to represent the industry as a whole.  If they appear to be a politically partisan group, that is a severe conflict of interest. In our reporting, we discovered that the CMSa Board of Directors has a distinct Republican bias. Most of the board members are executives in businesses whose leadership donates heavily to right-wing causes.

Currently, 7% of the board either donated to or worked for someone who donated to Democratic Causes.  14% donated to both parties, and a whopping 57% donated solely to Republicans.  Dollar for dollar, the data is even worse. On average, the money given to Democrats was less than $400, while the average donation to Republicans was over $10,000.  We believe this lack of representation of differing political views is one of the Court’s systemic problems.

Republican Donors & The Master Sommeliers Board of Directors

  1. Thomas Price, MS has worked for Jackson Family Wines for over six years. The company’s chairman Barbara Banke has donated over Two Million Dollars to Republican candidates across the country.
  2. Steven Poe, MS has worked for over a decade at the Big Canyon Country Club. This club is well known for being an exclusive bastion of  Republican politics in Orange County, California.
  3. Ron Edwards, MS  is an executive at Winebow, which is owned by the Brazos Private Equity firm. Both co-founders (Randall Fojtasek and Jeff Fronterhouse) donate exclusively to the Republican party. Donations as of publishing are well over $10K.
  4. Randall Bertao, MS has been an administrator at the Los Altos Golf & Country Club for over a decade.  His board of directors donates solely to Republicans. Of note is Andrew K Ludwick, the club’s Treasurer who has donated over $100,000 to Republican causes.
  5. Christopher Bates, MS is now the owner of Element Winery. However, for ten years he worked for Hotel Fauchère and Richard Snyder. Mr. Snyder had a long history of donating to Republican causes.
  6. Virginia Philip, MS is the Vice-Chair of the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas. She is an executive at The Breakers hotel. CEO Paul Leone has a long history of donating to the Republican party.
  7. Devon Broglie, MS  is the current Chair of the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas. He has worked for Whole Foods Market since 2005. Mr. Broglie works with CEO John Mackey, a longtime Republican donor, including a Rand Paul Super PAC.

Democratic Donors & The Master Sommeliers Board of Directors

  1. Peter Granoff, MS is the only member of the board to donate to a Democrat. He is the owner of Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant in San Fransisco.

Dual Donors & The Master Sommeliers Board of Directors

  1. Brett Davis, MS works for Lux Wines, a division of E. & J. Gallo Winery. CEO Joseph E Gallo donates heavily to both parties.
  2. Eric Entrikin, MS works for Germain-Robin California Brandy, a division of E. & J. Gallo Winery. CEO Joseph E Gallo donates heavily to both parties.

The Court Accepts Big Contributions from a Far-Right Political Donor

The Court of Master Sommeliers has deep financial ties to  Barbara Banke,  the far-right political donor. She funds the CMS scholarship program under the name of her wine company, the Jackson Family Wines Scholarship.

We call on the court to sever ties with the Republican party and bring in a board of directors that more accurately reflects the communities they serve. 

The Court of Master Sommeliers Has A Cheating Problem

In 2018, a board member was caught giving answers to the Master Sommelier exam to one of his protegees.  This blatant cheating was uncovered because the student had second thoughts and consulted a lawyer after taking the exam and passing.

Nobody knows how many people cheated on the September exam. The Court has only said a lawyer contacted them to say that a “member of the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas disclosed confidential information pertinent to the tasting portion of the 2018 Master Sommelier Diploma Examination prior to the examination.”

-Frances Dinkelspiel, The Daily Beast

It is well-known that the board members will tutor the very candidates they are supposed to be testing.  This type of advocacy is part of the Master Sommelier culture. While on the surface this may seem innocuous, it gives the beneficiaries (mostly male and white) a huge competitive advantage over other candidates.

Master Sommelier and Board Member Andrew McNamara tutoring an Advanced Sommelier candidate.
Master Sommelier and (Former) Board Member Andrew McNamara tutoring an Advanced Sommelier candidate – He and She On Wine.

This cronyism goes far beyond giving an unfair advantage to certain people: it has clearly encouraged outright cheating. It was a fluke that the fraud was exposed. The public has no way to gauge long such cheating has been going on:  the Court continues to stonewall any outside investigation into the scandal.

This is not the only issue with cronyism. Board members are also allowed to change the scores after the exam to benefit certain applicants.

As highlighted in Uncorked, former CMSA board chairman Joseph Spellman, MS, wrote on social media that the CMSA exam committee “reserves the right to change the sequence or selection or point values/scoring of the wines”

Courtney Schiessl, SevenFiftyDaily

After clearly stating that the board will change scores for some candidates, he backtracked and claimed they would only do so “to adjust for exam flaws.”  After discussing this issue with multiple sommeliers who have conducted blind tasting exams, there seems to be no valid reason to change a grade after the exam has been conducted.

The Court of Master Sommeliers has refused to comment on these serious issues, despite being widely reported in the media. At this point, it is illogical to assume there was only one case of cheating or that altering final scores is only done “to adjust for exam flaws.”  The premise of the Master Sommelier certification may be a fabrication. 

The Court of Master Sommeliers Has A Money Problem

The Court is a nonprofit agency [501(c)(6)] under US law. Their filings with the IRS clearly show that they make an average of Five Million Dollars a year, almost all of it earned through entrance fees for sommelier exams.

Where does that money go?  According to the US government, nearly all that money goes to compensation and management expenses.

  • Compensation to the board and employees is 25% of their annual budget.
  • Management expenses (Including legal, accounting, occupancy, entertainment, and travel) are 44% of their total budget.

Having nearly 70% of a budget devoted to administration and expenses is a red flag, according to many nonprofit watchdogs.

The website SeriousGivers places nonprofits into three groups: green zone, yellow zone and red zone. The red zone is for nonprofits that spend more than 50 percent on fundraising and management. The green zone is for nonprofits that spend between 20 percent and 30 percent.

-Steve McDonnell, BizFluent

While these red flags are problematic, the Court is also not fulfilling its obligations as a non-profit.

The 501(c)(6) designation includes membership-based organizations or clubs that promote the business interests of their members… Typical ways that a 501(c)(6) nonprofit promotes the business interests of its members include gathering and presenting industry data to governmental bureaus and agencies and lobbying for legislation supportive of the group’s mutual interests…the organization must serve the “common interests” of those members and must not engage in business for profit.

Joanne Fritz, The Balance Small Business

According to its own documentation, the Court  is not serving the sommelier trade’s common interests, as it is legally bound to.  It is only spending money to benefit its board of directors and employees. In its filings for 2018, the Court spent exactly zero dollars to support the sommelier community.

Alternatives to the Court of Master Sommeliers

Do you think it’s time to boycott the CMSa? Several accreditation agencies offer sommelier certification.  They offer the same level of certification as the Court.  You can check out a comparison chart of the three major wine trade certification bodies.

Do you think it’s time to boycott the Court of Master Sommeliers? Let us know in the comments. 

Boycott the Court of Master Sommeliers?

33 thoughts on “Boycott the Court of Master Sommeliers?

  • 27th August 2021 at 8:12 pm
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    My wife and I just watched the documentary “Somm” on Netflix. We saw the incredible amount of preparation and dedication it takes in order to pass the Master Somm exam. That is much more time and effort that I would want to put in. Not that I am lazy. I was an air traffic controller, and put in the effort to pass the FAA Academy, which has a very high washout rate (or at least had, when I attended decades ago).

    That being said, the “wokeness” of the complaints about Somms are par for the course nowadays. Absolutely EVERYTHING has to have the “correct” percentages of demographics, or else they are “obviously” racist, sexist, political, homophobic, xenophobic, etc.

    Gee, too many Republican Master Somms? How about take a look at university professors in the U.S.? Over 80% Democrat, with the political donations matching the percentage. In order to fix that, shouldn’t they “flatten the curve” of bias in education, by eliminating some the the Leftist professors, and make an even playing field in education? Seems to be a little more important to our country, than the demographics of people who taste wine for a living. Don’t you think?

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    • 3rd September 2021 at 10:49 am
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      This isn’t about what tribe you are in. This is just about good American values: don’t play favorites, let the cream rise to the top, and protect those weaker than us.

      Putting your faith in a television show is not a way towards understanding the issue. Sure, people work hard, but the outcomes have been shown to be rigged. What does it matter if you work hard but will never be let into the club? It’s not just about gender or race. If you are unattractive, overweight, or handicapped, you are also very unlikely to be let into the club.

      Reply
  • 14th July 2021 at 12:28 am
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    Instead of abandoning or boycotting the court altogether, is it not a better idea to continue to oust those that deserve to be irradiated, replacing them with people that care about the industry and its future and can help to ensure that diversity is a central tenet ingrained in the fabric of the newly revived court of master sommeliers? That’s my opinion. It wouldn’t be a terrible thing if woman were in charge For a little change, not to in any way imply that I struggle is Real for people of color as well. “Canceling it” altogether it’s just going to give the Republicans the BS ammo they want to continue to spew fourth their lame narratives for those small minded enough to listen.

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    • 3rd September 2021 at 6:37 pm
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      Or maybe let another sommelier agency take up the mantle?

      Reply
  • 8th July 2021 at 4:50 am
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    Hey Tyrone,

    First, I sympathize with your sentiment of woke culture and your call on the article. Good eye.

    Aside from that, you said you went this route, the sommelier route?? If you did become a somm., is the curriculum the same now compared to when you passed it, how long did it take to become one and did being a somm make it easy to find employment?

    About working as a somm, is there a difference between one and someone who isn’t a somm (say, a bar tender) in terms of work and pay and anything else you’d want to mention?

    Thank you,
    Domiano

    Reply
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  • 24th January 2021 at 9:38 am
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    This is in perfect lockstep with the dumpster fire that is our current state of affairs…

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  • 11th January 2021 at 4:50 pm
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    “SOMM is an independent board that reviews professional certifications in the wine trade.”

    Can you please publish the entity status and tax filing status of your Board as well as a list of acting board members so that those that disagree with your point of view and political beliefs can boycott the businesses that your board members own or are employed by?

    Reply
  • 2nd December 2020 at 9:32 am
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    There will always be someone with a “victim mentality” projecting their insecurities onto someone, begging others to join their bandwagon. For the reasons you have in suggesting boycotting CMS, this makes it quite clear to me that they are on the right track. When a founding entity promotes progress by inclusion, one should stand up and take notice.
    I suggest you get control over your emotions, words and actions and be proactive in finding solutions to issues you feel need attention rather than attempting to dismantle things you feel threatened by.

    EDITOR’S NOTE: This Individual is a Licensed Private Investigator from Texas. We do not know if she is employed by CMS, but that would be interesting.

    Reply
    • 2nd December 2020 at 12:23 pm
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      I actually from California, have worked in TX in the service industry for several years and have ZERO affiliation with CMS. I am pursuing becoming a Sommelier and in my research came upon this scandal. My views and comments have nothing to do with me being Private Investigator.

      Reply
    • 2nd December 2020 at 12:40 pm
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      I am actually from California, have worked in TX in the service industry for several years and have ZERO affiliation with CMS. I am considering becoming a Sommelier and in my research came upon this article. My views and comments have nothing to do with me being a Private Investigator and rather came from my clear and open-mindedness.

      Reply
      • 3rd December 2020 at 9:07 am
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        Kelly,

        The language you use shows you see Americans from other parts of the country as fundamentally different from you, and therefore are not worthy of your sympathy or consideration. Open minded people do not dismiss the growing evidence of corruption, sexual assault, and bias of CMS as being caused by a “victim mentality. ” There is simply too much evidence that this is true.

  • 23rd September 2020 at 8:15 pm
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    I never have known the organization, in my limited experience, to be racist or sexist in the slightest degree: I am a white male that failed, then passed.
    While I can understand the claims, given the times, I fear that they are visceral rather than facts based.
    Bottom line, I do not think the organization is racist or sexist, but it is worth looking at. And, if we are going to look at it, it must be based on data. Last time I checked Laura Maniec (Fiorvanti) was the most “celebrity” Somm. So that flies hard against any sexist narrative, for example.

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    • 10th October 2020 at 6:15 am
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      I’m just curious. As a white male, do you feel like your experiences of racism and sexism might be limited by your race and gender? Historically, white males have been at the top of the totem pole. How, then, could you know what injustice looks like? Also, having a women as a token female “celebrity” somm proves nothing against the daily slights of sexism and racism that corrode mental health and drive for people who actually have to deal with this issue i.e. not you white man!

      Depressing someone still needs to explain this sort of basic shit to you – maybe loosen up on those Burgundy notecards and learn a bit on how to be a decent human being. It will open up your eyes, I swear

      Reply
  • 5th August 2020 at 6:39 am
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    I’ve read the article, the follow-up article, and all the comments. I have one simple observation:

    The people who are defending CMSa are cherry-picking. They ignore most of the data and topics introduced but narrow in on the slivers of this article that they think they can discredit. That is intellectually dishonest and shows a very poor grasp of the deep and complex institutional programs that are highlighted in this article.

    To see how flimsy their arguments are –and how tainted their logic is– all you have to do is change “Court of Master Sommeliers” with another professional certification board, the AICPA (Association of International Certified Professional Accountants).

    If there was evidence that a board that certified accountants may be corrupt and politically biased, would you reflexively defend them? Or would you demand an investigation? What if that board ignored longstanding complaints of racism and sexism within the accounting profession? Would you defend them?

    People and institutions have been canceled for much less evidence than shown here. I think their defenses are simply based on blatant tribalism: the very thing that this article –to my mind– has exposed.

    Reply
  • 1st August 2020 at 10:32 pm
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    I have been a woman in the fine dining / wine business for 40 years . I have been a Somm since 2006 . My experience with Court of Lords Master Sommeliers has been varied . I have been in the food and beverage business most of my life . Have I been sexually harassed ? You bet . Discriminated because of my sex ? Absolutely . The Good Old Boys are everywhere and they are being exposed . There are also women who falsely accuse men . I have seen that on multiple occasions .
    I saw applicants who had the advantage of working along side Masters who benefited from their coaching , while I had to self study without the benefit of a private tutor . Is that fair ? Maybe . I do know that CMS does not make it easy to get into their club .
    As far as the political bias . The last Master class I attended in Seattle was taught by a MS who was sharing his very Leftist views which I did not pay to hear and turned me away from ever attending another class by him . Not because of his politics , but because that was not the place for that to be aired . Political views are personal and like religion should be kept to yourself , not in a business setting . . Politics and the wine business have little in common so I don’t care how many Republicans or Democrat’s are on the Board . I just want them to be fair and professional .
    Sommeliers have the reputation of being pretentious and a bit stuffy . That kind of goes with the fine dining industry as a whole . I think that is changing . I think that being gracious and more approachable sells more wine . During the service portion of the testing , the MS seem to enjoy being the most difficult customers , almost sadistically . They should probably work on that . Perception is reality .
    As far as racist , My experience as a veteran of the industry is , in the heat of battle we have no color , you are judged by you ability ,how hard you work and your attitude , period . 4 Star Hotels in Hawaii , Ski resorts , Tribal Casino , Nevada Casino and National Parks , all the same , If you worked hard you got respect . Of course there are bad players , but on the whole people are people . We all want the same things . Care and comfort for our families and respect for the work we do .
    I have respect for the CMS , that doesn’t mean that they don’t need to fix their obvious flaws , but you don’t need to” throw the baby out with the bathwater ” . I know that some people have bad experiences because they are unprepared for the enormity of the material that you are tested on . If it was easy, every wine swilling ” know it all ” would be a Somm .

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  • 24th July 2020 at 3:57 pm
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    Non-somm here, but male progressive democrat wine enthusiast with friends on the court. I have read both the article and the response page, and all I have to say is that while your points are important and potentially valid, to levy such heinous accusations at an organization with weak supporting documentation dismantles your points.

    Without first hand knowledge myself, CMSA might have a race problem, but you did not establish that (an Instagram post as your evidence, and one that challenges the court but does not name it as a source of racism). Therefore, I can’t take that portion of your article seriously. And since it lead off your list of offenses, it immediately weakens any credibility you might have in your further points. Is diversity important? Absolutely. Should the board reflect the body it represents? Sure. But the article demeans the court as a whole and treats the board as an afterthought. Instead of saying “The Court is Racist!” say, “The court fails to represent.” Otherwise you’re just falling into the realms of sensationalist journalism tropes frequented by the likes of Breitbart or The Blaze.

    Ditto “The Court has a Sexual Violence Problem.” Rather than citing anecdotal evidence, how about researching statistics on sexual violence in the workplace that pertains to alcohol sales and specifically wine. Such a blanket statement, and a lack of support, again disparages any other valid arguments you might have. Again, is sexual violence in the workplace bad? Absolutely. Do you convince me that the Court has a sexual violence problem? Not in the least.

    Ditto “The Sensationalist Republican Headline.” Are Republicans bad? Absolutely. Wait . . . that’s my liberal progressive democrat coming through. No they aren’t. I felt that this portion was your strongest section. You cited statistics! But, it fails to connect to our headline. “Is it time to boycott the Court?” The entirety of your article is about aiming for diversity and representation amongst the board, and while that is absolutely a noble argument and a fantastic idea, that’s not what you tried to sell me in the headline, or in these section headlines. Additionally, your argument about representation fails to tell me what percentage of the actual court body is democrat vs. republican, vs. independent, vs. communist, vs. etc.

    Cheating is wrong. It happened. No, we don’t know if it happened prior to this particular occurrence, but again, zero evidence is provided to suggest anything other than favoritism. While favoritism can lead to cheating, which it did in this particular instance, nothing suggests that this is repetitive. Certainly an investigation into cheating would be a welcome way to dispel any uncertainty remaining, but it is the court’s prerogative to allow one or not and take whatever knock to their credibility that may come.

    As far as the court fulfilling its non-profit status, you quote them as saying “The Court of Master Sommeliers was established to encourage improved standards of beverage knowledge and service in hotels and restaurants. Education was then, and remains today, the Court’s charter.” Isn’t this what they do? Isn’t this why their expenses are lodging and travel? How else are they supposed to teach a cadre of young somms if they don’t travel to where they are? Without a further breakdown and forensic analysis, I’m not sure you’ve convinced me that they are some sort of nefarious, pocket-stuffing coven, which seems to be your unwritten suggestion. As well, based on the quoted charter, the court doesn’t seem to be founded on the same principles as the AHLA, so why should they be held to the same standard?

    And finally, this is the heart of your article (and it unfortunately doesn’t show up until your response article):

    “We do not have a political agenda, as some have claimed. We simply want sommeliers to take a long and hard look at the CMSa and demand that it does better. We are not asking for a lot.

    We are asking for its board of directors to reflect it’s members. Sommeliers are not just white male Republicans.
    We are asking for the Court to address the ongoing scandals that threaten to tarnish everyone who is a member.
    We are asking the Court to address the racism and sexual violence within our trade.
    If the Court can’t address these issues, then maybe it is time to boycott the Court of Master Sommeliers until they address these systematic shortcomings.”

    But this isn’t the premise of the original article as presented; it’s buried at the end of each section. An article rooted in these ideas might have validity had you not stumbled so much in your efforts to arrive here. Your evidence was lacking, you failed to provide an accurate statistical representation of the body of somms represented by the board, and thus are not providing convincing arguments that the board doesn’t represent the actual court. Your concerns are valid and should be addressed, but the vehicle for doing so should be much more convincing. Perhaps you should go back to the drawing board and craft an article more worthy of consideration.

    Reply
  • 11th July 2020 at 12:41 pm
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    Who is this G Osborne and who cares? She’s anti-male and anti-sommelier. She probably failed the exam and is asshurt. She couldn’t hack it if she tried. We can never EVER give in to the shrill libtards who want to take our jobs.

    Reply
    • 21st July 2020 at 7:56 pm
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      The fact that you would use the term “libtard” is digusting, amoral and repugnant and you should never work in the service industry period. You’re disgusting and if you’re a member of the CMS you should be stripped of any certifications. Period.

      Reply
  • 9th July 2020 at 1:02 pm
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    I agree that this article is inflammatory and ill advised. Free speech is not absolute, you can not yell FIRE! in a crowded theater. These are opinions and conjecture without supporting facts. As a Master of Wine (MW) candidate and person of color I believe this entire outlook is absolute insanity. Getting to this level requires hard work, dedication, and a level of sacrifice only seen in a few professional programs. The CMS, WSET, MW, and most other professional wine organizations are demanding you must make the commitment to succeed. I also agree with previous comments about the difficulty to access jobs in the industry for ANYONE, regardless of ethnicity or background. I also believe that automatically assuming a person, business, or organization is immediately evil because they are Republican shows a level of ignorance that ironically is what they are complaining about. No American, for any reason, needs to choose sides or condemn people or organizations because they disagree with their point of view, NO ONE. Of course, I am against sexual violence (being a victim), as well as hate and prejudice (being a victim), but to look at the world and this organization in such a narrow minded, ignorant, and purely fascist way makes you no better than what you are fighting against.

    Reply
    • 21st July 2020 at 8:04 pm
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      Your statement is about as well composed as a chipmunk trying to avoid highway traffic. You’re calling facts conjecture when you yourself offer no evidence to the contrary. And given the current state of the Republican Party (racist, homophobic, climate deniers, science deniers- ALL facts by the way) for you to suggest that the article is somehow wrong for calling this out is beyond ridiculous. Wake up. Educate yourself. You can’t stand up for a “Court of Masters” who are at the same time accepting money from climate science deniers, racists and bigots. The percentages don’t lie and either do the very public donations that were clearly laid out in the aforementioned article. So your argument is a failed attempt at defending the indefensible. Now go and get an education before you open your mouth about a subject you don’t seem to grasp even on a basic level. What an embarrassment. Grow up and learn.

      Reply
  • 9th July 2020 at 11:52 am
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    This seems to me a terribly written article from somebody who has no interest in responsible journalism. As both a female and a Democrat, I do not believe a boycott is reasonable, and it detracts and demeans those in CMS who have devoted hundreds of hours to the pursuit of wine knowledge. It’s ridiculous to hold individuals responsible for the donations or political leanings of the company they are employed by. I also don’t agree with the claim that you have to know the “right” people to succeed, since I had NO master sommelier recommendation letters and still got into the exams. However, what I did do was study hard, take any position (paid or otherwise) to gain experience, and work my ass off. It’s hard to break into the wine industry, and I got a plethora of rejection letters along the way. However, to blame the Court for the harassment of women in the wine industry and various other offenses listed, without so much as mentioning the disparities of giant wine corporations such as Constellation or other educational routes such as WSET or CWE, is both irresponsible and biased.

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    • 21st July 2020 at 8:09 pm
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      I’m sorry but what do the disparities of giant wine corporations have to do with a Court which largely consists of older white men who are accepting money from climate science deniers and racists? You may be a female and a Democrat but your blind defense to protect your own pin is ridiculous. Are you telling me that you’re okay with having your pin as the men that put it on your chest are supporting the very causes that are further destroying the planet and marginalizing races at the same time? With all due respect your shiny pin blinds you from the truth.

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  • 27th June 2020 at 7:17 am
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    There are some insanely irresponsible and weak arguments in this article. It may be one of the most poorly written ones I’ve seen so far. If I’m reading this right, you are somehow responsible for your employer’s political views? Also, does the author have evidence about sexual violence as it directly relates to the court? If so I would be interested to see that. But it doesn’t seem to be in the article

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    • 27th June 2020 at 9:32 am
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      Sounds like you are a member of the CMSA. The Court’s status as a 501(c)(6) non-profit requires them to behave in a specific fashion.

      Here’s the law:
      “its activities should be directed to the improvement of business conditions of one or more lines of business as distinguished from the performance of particular services for individual persons.” 26 CFR § 1.501(c)(6)-1 – Business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards, and boards of trade.

      As a trade organization, they are obligated to improve the working conditions of the trade, not individuals. Since they claim to be the defacto certification body for sommeliers, they bear responsibilities for the actions within that group. Can we know which one of the rapists was a CMSA member? No. Does the CMSA need to make a stand on violence against women in the sommelier field? Yes, absolutely fucking yes.

      A master sommelier can work anywhere they want, so why does nearly every master sommelier who is a member of the board work for Republican-led organizations? People need to know the choices the board of directors has made. The fact that CMSA directly takes money from them goes to show that CMSA is a deeply politicized non-profit. and that is information people have a right to know.

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      • 27th June 2020 at 10:34 pm
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        I think G Osborne hasn’t taken a journalism class in their life. The author’s arguments are non-sequiturs and their basic misunderstanding of how non-profits work lead them to sensationalist conclusions. If you want to have a real conversation, please DM me.

      • 21st July 2020 at 8:11 pm
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        Amen and thank you.

  • 20th June 2020 at 8:21 am
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    There have been whispers about the CMS ever since I started working as a somm. If you don’t know the right people, you wont get your pin. Its about time they were taken down a notch.

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    • 29th October 2020 at 7:21 am
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      Whispers are not facts. They are usually derive from individuals scorned over not passing some level of the exams. Perhaps before deciding to take down an organization over rumor and conjecture….take part in CMS with an open mind and see for yourself what is fact and fiction.

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