Wine News Somm Struck Off Over Tasting Leak

Somm Struck Off Over Tasting Leak

The "Page Not Found" on the Court of Master Sommeliers website appears to indicate that someone is on the way out.
© Court of Master Sommeliers | The "Page Not Found" on the Court of Master Sommeliers website appears to indicate that someone is on the way out.
The man responsible for the cancellation of 23 of this year's Master Sommelier diplomas is defrocked.
By Don Kavanagh and Robert Myers | Posted Friday, 12-Oct-2018

The man responsible for the cancellation and rescheduling of the Master Sommelier tasting test has still not been officially named, but Wine-Searcher understands that the person in question is Regino "Reggie" Narito Jr., an erstwhile Master Sommelier based in San Diego.

The Court of Master Sommeliers announced this week that its board had unanimously voted to invalidate the results of the tasting after evidence emerged that one of the Masters involved in the procedure had leaked information of which wines were to be included in the tasting flight to a candidate before the tasting took place.

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That person was subsequently stripped of the MS title and purged from the Court's rolls. The only person removed from the Court's website this week was Narito, who qualified for the title in 2005 and who was mentor to several students who were candidates in this year's cancelled exam.

Narito had also been a member of the board of the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas, and appeared in both the film Somm and Esquire Network's television series Uncorked. He responded to inquiries from Wine-Searcher with a terse email: "I have no comment at this time."

On his blog, Narito specifically mentioned the MS exam, which was held in September in St Louis. "We had an historic pass rate of 24 new Master Sommeliers, the largest in the history of the Court..." he wrote. "Of the 24 passing candidates, four were students of mine."

Of the 24 candidates, 23 sat the tasting exam that was annulled. It is understood the list of wines to be tasted was leaked to just one person.

A spokesperson for the court said there was no new information today and declined to make any comment when asked about Narito, except to say: "The board has not offically named anyone at this stage."

The Court said it would refund all fees collected for the tasting portion of the exam, and hold two retesting opportunities, one before the end of this year and another during the spring or early summer of 2019. Candidates could choose either retest opportunity or could take the retest during the regularly scheduled examination program in 2019. The examination fee for the retest would be waived, and assistance with travel costs would also be available where appropriate.

However, that might not be enough for all the devastated candidates. One of them told SevenFifty Daily that the experience had been the last straw.

"I will probably be one of the candidates who will not retake the exam," the anonymous source said. "I know this is not the intent, but I feel like a martyr. I am embarrassed, though I did nothing wrong. I want to find a different industry to work in. I want this to be over."

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