Top people moves in drinks: December

Six new Master Sommeliers

Andrey Ivanov, Douglas Kim, Mia Van de Water, Max Kast and Steven McDonald. (Dana Gaiser not pictured.)

The Court of Master Sommeliers announced six new Master Sommeliers this month, all of whom have now passed the gruelling exam twice after a scandal earlier this year stripped 23 newly-crowned candidates of their titles.

The six new Master Sommeliers are: Dana Gaiser of Lauber Imports in New York; Andrey Ivanov of Bliss Wine Imports in San Francisco; Douglas Kim of Picasso in Las Vegas; Mia Van de Water of Eleven Madison Park in New York; Max Kast of Broadbent Selections in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Steven McDonald of Pappas Bros. Steakhouse in Houston. This takes the total number of Master Sommeliers in the world to 279.

All six MS students first passed the tasting exam back in September this year, giving them the title of Master Sommelier. However, in October, they were stripped of the accolade after the The Court of Master Sommeliers found “clear evidence” than an existing MS had revealed the wines that were to be tasted in advance.

The court has never officially named the MS involved but stated that they had been barred from participating in any Court of Master Sommeliers Americas programmes or events, had their membership terminated and had been stripped of their title. It did state that “detailed information” about the wines in the tasting flight was found to have been released prior to the exam, but it did not say whether this information was actually seen by any of the candidates or indeed if it was, how many saw it.

After the decision to void the exam, the court added that it would refund all fees for the exam, hold two retesting opportunities, waive the examination fee for the retest and offer appropriate travel cost assistance for the retest.

It offered all 54 students who took part in the tasting portion of the exam in St Louis, Missouri in September the opportunity to retake the exam. In September’s exam, 23 students who passed were later stripped of the MS accolade.

30 of those 54 candidates chose to resit their exams in December rather than in April 2019. It was not revealed how many of those 30 candidates had already passed the exam.

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