There were lots of developments in the world of beverage this year, from the threat of tariffs on wines from France and bourbon from Kentucky to the continued impact of climate change, the rise of spiked seltzer, and beverage companies like Constellation investing heavily in cannabis. But the most shocking was the Master Sommelier cheating scandal that rocked the sommelier community earlier this fall.
In September, a record 24 Master Sommelier candidates passed the toughest wine exam in the world — an exam that just 249 people had passed prior. Initially this feat didn’t raise many eyebrows, but only a few weeks later the Court of Master Sommelier’s announced that one of their own, a fellow Master Sommelier, had leaked the answers to the exam to some of the participants. As retribution, and because the Court said it did not know who exactly had received the information, it stripped 23 of the 24 individuals who passed of their newly received titles of Master. The scandal brought up a variety of questions, from who should be taking this exam in the first place, to whether or not this was the first time cheating had occurred — it probably wasn’t. The largest question it raised, however, was whether or not sommelier certification really matters in the first place, especially if that certification is controlled by an organization that operates in secrecy and is probably corrupt.
We discuss this scandal and the other big developments this year in our final podcast of 2018. Will cannabis start to eat away at alcohol sales in 2019? Is spiked seltzer ever going to go away? And is it time to stop caring about whether or not the sommelier serving us is wearing a pin?