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Pat

Most 2018 Master Sommeliers Have Diplomas Revoked

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"Somm Scandal: Revelations of Cheating at Master Sommelier Examination Lead to the Invalidation of 23 New Certifications" by Esther Mobley on sfchronicle.com

A master from the Court of Master Sommeliers released detailed information about the wines in the blind-tasting portion of the exam in advance, so 23 of the 24 individuals in the class of 2018 had their diplomas revoked and will have to retake that portion of the exam. All 54 people who took the blind-tasting this year will have their results invalidated.  (The only person whose diploma wasn't revoked had completed the blind-tasting portion last year and wasn't affected.) This is being done to preserve the integrity of the process and the value of the title.

I can't imagine how unhappy those folks must be. ūüėß

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44 minutes ago, Pat said:

I can't imagine how unhappy those folks must be. ūüėß

You don't need to - one of the 23 was Jill Zimorski, former sommelier at Café Atlantico, Charlie Palmer Steak, and Volt.

Here's her Facebook Post. With Jill's permission, I'm copying it here - it really speaks for itself:

"5 weeks ago was perhaps the greatest day of my life. 12 years after I sat the Court of Master Sommeliers Introductory Exam, I passed the Master Sommelier Exam. It took me 5 tries in total and on that 5th try, I was finally successful in passing the tasting exam. It was the culmination of years of hard work, perseverance, determination & patience. Unfortunately a Master Sommelier & candidate(s) ruined it for everyone else by trying to cheat the system. I was shocked when I got the news yesterday and the past 24 hours have been some of the worst I can recall -- now knowing that I, and so many others who honestly and fairly achieved this designation, will be stripped of what we so justly earned. I'm sad, angry, deflated, depressed -- a veritable casserole of emotions - but one sentiment holds consistent from 5 weeks ago: That I'm grateful for the love and support of so many around me. Thanks to all those who reached out and continue to do so. It is SO needed and appreciated. Winners never cheat, and cheaters...they know where they can go."

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Can someone explain to me why they cannot determine who cheated and who did not? Obviously they know the Master who gave out the information. Who did he tell?

That person needs to have the results stripped? Was there an unusual amount of people that passed the tasting? Did everyone pass the tasting? This seems to be an overly Draconian step....and there is NO guarantee that those that passed the test this year, legitemately, could pass the test next week, or four weeks hence.

Having tasted many wines blind and gone through numerous tasting classes with profile grids and deductive reasoning....blind tasting is a bitch! Theory is memorization (a ton of it). Service is rather silly if you ask me and too subjective. Blind tasting? Even the most educated of palates need a wee bit of luck* to get through that.

*Not luck as in "guess" but luck as in familiarity with the specific vintage, varietal, & appellation

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12 minutes ago, B.A.R. said:

Can someone explain to me why they cannot determine who cheated and who did not? Obviously they know the Master who gave out the information. Who did he tell?

And what makes you think it was a "he?" ;) <--- You have every right to hate me for this.

Seriously, there's probably no good way to find out who knew, and who didn't - a lot of these people are friends with each other. I also remember reading that an unprecedented number of people passed this year, which may have contributed to the decision (making it even more unfair for the innocent like Jill).

"Questions Surrounding Blind-Tasting Exam Leave 23 New Master Sommeliers in Limbo"  by Ben O'Donnell on winespectator.com

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30 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

And what makes you think it was a "he?" ;) <--- You have every right to hate me for this.

Because we are generally less scrupulous! I think CMS needs to give a far more detailed account of what happened.

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1 hour ago, B.A.R. said:

Can someone explain to me why they cannot determine who cheated and who did not? Obviously they know the Master who gave out the information. Who did he tell?

That person needs to have the results stripped? Was there an unusual amount of people that passed the tasting? Did everyone pass the tasting? This seems to be an overly Draconian step....and there is NO guarantee that those that passed the test this year, legitemately, could pass the test next week, or four weeks hence.

Having tasted many wines blind and gone through numerous tasting classes with profile grids and deductive reasoning....blind tasting is a bitch! Theory is memorization (a ton of it). Service is rather silly if you ask me and too subjective. Blind tasting? Even the most educated of palates need a wee bit of luck to get through that

Brian, I generally agree with you. I have always considered blind tasting a parlor trick. Maybe because I'm so terrible at it. :) The article about this incident in this mornings Washington Post quoted several members who have been attempting this certification for 8 or more years at a cost of $70,000-80,000! I personally know several friends who have attempted it at least 3 times.  My somm career began in 1982- 4 years before the CMS began its program in the US. I was lucky enough to taste all the wines that people can only read about today. These days I don't even use the "S" word anymore- it terrifies people. Instead, I use "Wine Guy", it sounds less threatening. 

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Do they release the number of candidates each year? It's difficult to say whether 24 passes is abnormal in a given year without knowing how many applicants there were. Previous high was 16* but since 2002 (not including 2018) the average per year is just over 9. [ETA: Interweb says pass rate is 3-8%]

Why have they not identified the accused MS by name? They seem to have removed his/her name off the website, so it's not really a secret anymore, correct? (I believe that the deceased remain on the membership list.) [Oops google tells me that wine-searcher also did the same thing here]

 

Maybe not so irresponsible speculation:

* or was it?

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Don, I am sure this is a difficult time for Ms. Zimorski, but I wonder if she would be willing to comment on what she experienced here. It would be so insightful

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