Six new Master Sommeliers after tasting exam re-run

Six hopefuls in the US have gained Master Sommelier status after passing the notoriously difficult tasting exam – twice.

The Court of Master Sommeliers in the Americas said that it was providing three re-sit opportunities for students who had already passed the tasting exam in September 2018, only to see their results annulled due to fears that some of the wine details could have been leaked.

Six candidates, all of whom passed the original exam, have again passed at the first ‘re-sit’, held on 5 December at the Four Seasons Resort in St. Louis, Missouri.

The six new Master Sommeliers, all in the US, were listed as:

• Dana Gaiser, of Lauber Imports, New York;
• Andrey Ivanov, of Bliss Wine Imports, San Francisco;
• Max Kast, of Broadbent Selections in Chapel Hill, North Carolina;
• Douglas Kim, of Picasso at Bellagio, Las Vegas;
• Steven McDonald, of Pappas Bros Steakhouse, Houston;
• Mia Van de Water, of Eleven Madison Park, New York.

Thirty candidates took the latest tasting exam, in which students must blind taste six wines in 25 minutes.

In order to become an MS, students must also pass a verbal theory exam and a test on their service and sales skills in a restaurant.

All students involved in the earlier, void exam can re-take the test in April 2019, or at the regular examination date scheduled for next September, said the Court.

The Court re-iterated that its board unanimously agreed to annul results from September following ‘clear evidence that a Master breached the confidentiality with respect to the wines presented for tasting’. It did not name the Master in question.

There was no suggestion that any candidates had done anything wrong.

‘This has been a challenging time for the Court,’ said Devon Broglie MS, chair of the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas.

‘I am humbled by the continued demonstration of commitment, passion and dedication of all the candidates who joined us in St. Louis this week, and I am grateful for the 20 Master Sommeliers who served as proctors.’

Posting on Instagram, Mia Van de Water MS, one of the six who passed this month, described the re-sit success as a proud yet ‘bittersweet’ moment. She said that she maintained ‘immense faith’ in other candidates who saw their September results annulled, and she wished them well.


Master of Wine vs Master Sommelier – what’s the difference?