Somm scandal: Revelations of cheating at master sommelier examination lead to the invalidation of 23 new certifications

The master sommelier examination has often been called “the hardest test you’ve never heard of.” Since its inception in 1969, just 274 people have passed the grueling exam, which involves years, sometimes even decades, of preparation.

For a wine service professional, it is the crowning achievement of a career. This year, 24 people passed the test, earning the right to add the coveted “MS” suffix to their names.

Now, the exam’s administering body, the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS), has announced that it will invalidate the results of one portion of this year’s examination. In an Oct. 9 letter sent to all master sommeliers, CMS board chairman Devon Broglie, MS, wrote that the board had “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.”

Broglie did not name the master sommelier responsible for the information breach, though it seems likely that the person may have been one of the exam proctors. Proctors are master sommeliers who have undergone a rigorous additional training process, typically lasting about four years.

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