Grape Depression: 23 Master Sommeliers Have Titles Revoked Amid Cheating Probe

The Court of Master Sommeliers has opened an investigation.

Twenty-three wine professionals were stripped of their new “master sommelier” titles on Tuesday after it was discovered there had been cheating involved in the tasting portion of their test, the San Fransisco Chronicle reported.

A master sommelier is perhaps the most prestigious title to have for a wine service professional. Getting to the rank takes years, and is capped off by a grueling exam best exemplified in the 2012 film “Somm.” As the Chronicle notes, it’s been called “the hardest test you’ve never heard of,” with only 274 people having passed the exam since it started in 1969.

The Court of Master Sommeliers, a shadowy organization the governing body that administers the exams and crowns master sommeliers, said in an Oct. 9 statement that the board “received a report from outside legal counsel 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.”

The exam includes three sections, according to Business Insider: a verbal theory exam, a blind tasting of six wines in just 25 minutes, and a restaurant service component. 

The person responsible for the leaked information is likely an unnamed exam proctor, the Chronicle said, noting the proctors are themselves master sommeliers who have gone through an additional four-year training process. An investigation is now underway, according to the court.

One new master sommelier, Morgan Harris, will be the only one to keep his title because he took the tasting portion of the exam last year, according to the New York Daily News.

If the court is looking for a new master sommelier, might HuffPost suggest this oaky white: