It’s been another week filled with crazy current events, and I don’t blame you if you feel like you can’t focus on any one thing. That’s certainly how I feel most days. Don’t forget to take time to relax, breathe, and drink a glass of wine.

This week, the Somm-Scandal continues, as the organization attempts to restructure from the inside out. Meanwhile, the once closely associated GuildSomm is doing just the same, hiring a completely new board of directors in an effort to promote inclusion and diversity. But is it too late for the name—and maybe even the concept of—sommelier to be completely smeared in the eyes and ears of the wine industry and the consumer base? Curious what you all think…

Meanwhile, the ever increasing COVID cases throughout the US is significantly affecting the future of wineries, breweries, and bars and restaurants.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Wine Enthusiast has just this week released their full list of Wine Star Awards (of which I’m honored to say I was able to help write-up a few profiles); the Masters of Wine, in lieu of an in-person celebration, has created a video honoring the newest 23 individuals who’ve earned the coveted title—so now we can all join in the fun; and, this is totally random, but I found this breakfast-for-dinner recipe that I just had to share.

Down in the Blogs, we’ve got some independent insight as well as some great educational posts. So scroll through, have some fun, and don’t be shy to share your thoughts. Cheers and happy weekend-ing.

Wine Spectator: Court of Master Sommeliers Chairman Steps Down, Group to Restructure After Outcry over Sexual Harassment

Sommelier community in turmoil amid complaints of a toxic culture at the highest levels; the organization has now suspended 11 Master Sommeliers, and the entire board will resign

CMS students rely on Master Sommeliers to mentor them for exams; multiple Masters stand accused of abusing that trust. (Getty/karelnoppe)

The chairman of the Court of Master Sommeliers-Americas (CMS-A) stepped down Friday, Nov. 6 and the group announced plans for an overhaul, following its earlier suspension of seven male Master Sommeliers from all activities and the resignation of another. All stand accused of sexually harassing women who were pursuing certification with the group. Three additional Master Sommeliers were suspended that sameday, and an independent investigator has been appointed to follow up on all allegations.

“We agree that a reformed CMS-A is the only path forward to ensuring the organization’s existence and integrity, and to better protect the people who look to be educated and earn the credentials for which we have all worked so hard,” wrote board vice chair Virginia Philip in a letter sent Friday to all Master Sommeliers. Philip will oversee the transition, temporarily taking over from CMS-A chairman Devon Broglie, who resigned after numerous members of the sommelier community called for his departure and shortly before allegations of his own inappropriate behavior came to public light. She said she will oversee the transition and then step down at the end of her term. The group will hold a town hall with members on Nov. 11 to discuss proposed reforms and a timeline for a new board election.

On Sunday, Nov. 8, following continued criticism, the Court publicly posted that the entire 15-member board would be up for election and resign as soon as new officers were voted in. READ MORE…

VinePair: The Court of Master Sommeliers’ Lack of Transparency Has Failed Us

Cristie Norman is a Wine Educator and Sommelier

The Court of Master Sommeliers Americas (CMS-A), on paper, is a certifying body for wine professionals. However, in the context of social and political status as a sommelier, the CMS-A holds the keys to higher-paying jobs, coveted sommelier positions at elite restaurants, and increased social status in the community. These keys come in the form of passing the CMS-A’s multi-level exams, which are well known in the hospitality industry, and known to be challenging. Therefore, if you consider yourself a sommelier, it is all but expected that you will pursue its certifications.

You may be asking, how do difficult exams lead to sexual assault? They don’t. The problem does not inherently lie within the examinations themselves, but rather the road to being selected to take them. With each higher level of testing, there are fewer seats available — and the criteria on which you are selected becomes more mysterious. READ MORE…

GuildSomm: GuildSomm Appoints New Board Member (Press Release)

GuildSomm Names Daniela Frison of Montreal as New Board of Directors Member

The GuildSomm Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Daniela Frison has accepted a position as a member of the GuildSomm Board. Her three-year term will begin on January 1, 2021, with opportunity to commit to additional terms. The Board looks forward to welcoming Frison’s expertise and input as they strive to provide educational excellence for wine professionals and aficionados.

Frison is the Founder and Principal of Le Vin Nécessaire, a wine consulting business that offers its clients personalized shopping and cellaring services and wine education; the company also consults for restaurants and other businesses looking to reinvent their wine lists. Prior to founding Le Vin Nécessaire, Frison worked in wine sales and importation.

Born in Ecuador and based in Montreal, Canada, Frison will bring an international perspective to GuildSomm’s Board of Directors. She is fluent Spanish, French, Italian, and English, and her pursuit of wine and business education has allowed her exposure to many important wine markets. She holds a degree in International Business from HEC Montréal and a Level 4 Diploma from the WSET School in London. Committed to continuing her education, Frison plans to pursue a Master of Wine title through the Institute of Masters of Wine. The GuildSomm Board of Directors is confident that Frison will be an advocate for innovation and inclusion at GuildSomm.

CONTACT: Chris Tanghe,

Napa Valley Register: Napa Valley restaurants brace for tougher times this winter

St. Helena’s Goose and Gander will be closing for the winter, with plans to reopen in March; Tim Carl LLC

Since the onslaught of the pandemic, there have been dire predictions that 50% or more restaurants might close. Until now most Napa Valley restaurants have survived; however, many interviewed for this article are at least entertaining the idea of going to takeout only or temporarily closing during the slow winter season. READ MORE…

Eater: Ghost Kitchens Are the Wave of the Future. But Is That a Good Thing?

Delivery-only restaurants, which have proliferated during the pandemic, could change the way the industry does business for years to come

Charles Jones makes a customers order inside the kitchen of Taco Pete at the Grand Food Depot ghost kitchen. Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Charles Jones makes a customers order inside the kitchen of Taco Pete at the Grand Food Depot ghost kitchen. Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Virtual brands, ghost kitchens, delivery-only concepts — whatever you call them — have thrived during COVID-19. Euromonitor, a market research firm, recently estimated that they could be a $1 trillion business by 2030. That’s happening concurrently with near-impossible working conditions for many brick-and-mortar restaurants. Stores in cities that once did a brisk lunch business saw sales fall off a cliff. To mitigate losses, some restaurants are throwing everything they have at virtual expansion, creating entirely new brands that live online. READ MORE…

SF Chronicle: San Francisco shuts down indoor dining at restaurants

Server Nat Chananudech wears a mask and gloves as he delivers drinks to guests at John's Grill in San Francisco in September.Photo: Michael Short / Special to The Chronicle
Server Nat Chananudech wears a mask and gloves as he delivers drinks to guests at John’s Grill in San Francisco in September.Photo: Michael Short / Special to The Chronicle

San Francisco restaurants will have to close their indoor dining rooms Friday due to a rise in coronavirus cases, Mayor London Breed announced Tuesday.

“The fact is the virus is spreading and we have to make the hard decisions,” she said.

Grant Colfax, the city’s director of health, said cases are projected to rapidly increase if steps to reduce indoor activities aren’t taken. In the past two weeks, the case rate in San Francisco went from 3.7 to 9 per 100,000 residents. There are an average of 80 new cases per day, up from 32 at the end of October, he said. READ MORE…

Wine Enthusiast: Broken Dishes and Bad Tips: Brewery Guests Lash Out at Covid-19 Restrictions

Servers at Stone Cow wear masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19 / Photo by Shayna Stevens

As the pandemic has disrupted life, breweries across the country have worked to adapt to keep the lights on, taps flowing, and staff and customers safe. Most patrons follow the rules, but the ones who refuse impact hospitality workers already beleaguered by changing guidelines, safety concerns and, in many circumstances, reduced hours and wages.

Horror stories abound. At Fifth Hammer in Queens, New York, one customer refused to sit down when drinking a beer per state rules, or wear a mask while standing, recalls co-owner Mary Izett. That person walked away from the establishment, leaving friends behind, rather than comply with the rules.

Another Fifth Hammer patron was so agitated by the health mandates that they wished both Covid-19 and death on their bartender before storming away. READ MORE…

SF Gate: Covid-19, in addition to stealing sense of smell, may also warp it

Jennifer Spicer thought her days of feeling the effects of covid-19 were over. The fever, chills and severe fatigue that racked her body back in late July had long dissipated. And much to the excitement of the self-described “foodie,” her senses of smell and taste were slowly returning.

“I thought I had recovered,” said Spicer, 35, an infectious-disease physician at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, who was exposed to the novel coronavirus while treating a patient. Although her senses hadn’t fully come back, she was eating and drinking “completely normally” again. “I felt a lot of relief,” she said.

But that relief lasted only until a Friday night in late October when she took a sip from a freshly poured glass of red wine. READ MORE…

Decanter: Napa tipped for fine wine market growth

Weaker price momentum for some top wines in 2020 has not dulled optimism among analysts and merchants that collector interest in Napa – and California in general – will continue to grow on the international fine wine market.

Credit: Daniel Salgado / Unsplash
Credit: Daniel Salgado / Unsplash

It may be 44 years since the Judgement of Paris announced California’s arrival on the world wine stage, but Napa Valley is still considered in some quarters to be an emerging force on the global fine wine market.

While many cult wines are sold exclusively via member-only lists, more producers are interested attracting new collectors internationally, said Giles Cooper, buyer at the BI Fine Wine & Spirits merchant.

‘They’re looking at how they can expand their distribution,’ he said … READ MORE…

wine-searcher: Another Twist in Rudy Wine Fraud Saga

There is some confusion as to whether the world’s most famous wine forger will be deported or not.

© FBI | Some of the fake bottles recovered from a raid on Kurniawan's apartment.
© FBI | Some of the fake bottles recovered from a raid on Kurniawan’s apartment.

Last week, Wine-Searcher reported that convicted wine forger Rudy Kurniawan was on the verge of being released from prison, and would be deported.

Today, we must retract half of that. Kurniawan was released from one US federal prison on Friday, November 6 – one day early. He is now in the custody of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to its website. But we are no longer completely certain that he will be deported. READ MORE…

Wine Enthusiast: Wine Star Awards

For over two decades, Wine Enthusiast has honored individuals and companies that have contributed to the success of the wine and spirits industry, with our annual Wine Star Awards.
For over two decades, Wine Enthusiast has honored individuals and companies that have contributed to the success of the wine and spirits industry, with our annual Wine Star Awards.

Over the years, the size and scope of have expanded to encompass spirits and to showcase hands-on consumer gatekeepers, such as sommeliers. We recognize how multifaceted and rich the wine culture and its peripheral facets have become, and continually embrace and acknowledge the trailblazers who are impacting what you put in your glass every day. READ MORE…

Wine Spectator: Savory French Toast with Quick Tomato Jam and Sparkling Wine

Put a dinnertime twist on the traditionally sweet breakfast staple with seasonings that give it a kick, an egg in the middle and a glass of bubbly alongside

With ingredients like garlic powder and parmesan cheese, this isn't your average French toast—but it's arguably more satisfying than the original. (Julie Harans)
With ingredients like garlic powder and parmesan cheese, this isn’t your average French toast—but it’s arguably more satisfying than the original. (Julie Harans)

It’s 2020. Go nuts and have breakfast for dinner.

On top of the nostalgically fun feel, breakfast dishes are typically quick-cooking and rely heavily on low-cost pantry staples, making them perfect for a weeknight when you can’t go out. And if Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard aren’t already staples in your pantry, they ought to be. Here, they add a hefty dose of salt, savoriness and depth to time-honored French toast, turning it from a safe brunch order into a sophisticated-feeling main meal. This dish can stand on its own, especially for two, but it can also be bulked up by accompanying sides like fruit salad, sausage or hashbrowns for hungrier groups. READ MORE and GET THE RECIPE…

Blogs Worth a Read

Taken from the list of Blogs I follow regularly, here are just a few posts from this past week I think are worth a read. Shoot me a note if you have suggestions of blogs to follow or want your blog included on that list.

Wine Curmudgeon: Wine tariff update—It looks like things are going to get worse before they get better

New 25 percent EU spirits tariff threatens to ratchet trade war up another notch

The good news about repealing the 25 percent Trump European wine tariff? The administration that levied it will be gone in a couple of months. The bad news? A couple of commentators don’t see the Biden Administration as being necessarily more friendly toward trade and the European Union. READ MORE…

Jancis Robinson: Grenache and Garnacha redesigned

Who make the best new-wave examples? There’s a wide price disparity …

Giles Cooke MW of Thistledown Wines is pictured in the ancient Smart Vineyard.

Having just tasted a dozen wines made from the fashionable Grenache grape in McLaren Vale, South Australia, I thought I’d look up what my friend James Halliday had to say about Grenache in his 1990 Australian Wine Guide. (Halliday is by quite a stretch Australia’s best-known and most-experienced wine writer. At 82 he has only just relinquished full responsibility for the annual Halliday Wine Companion, which rates virtually every wine made in Australia.)

The section at the beginning of this substantial book lists the names of 116 grape varieties including such obscurities as Montils and a grape, Troyen, no longer grown in its native Burgundy but renamed Glory of Australia in Victoria’s Great Western region apparently. But of Grenache there is no mention, so infra dig was it considered then in Australia – fit only to supply raw material for cheap fortified wine. READ MORE…

The Wine Gourd: A problem for wine-makers in Sweden?

Bjorn Wollentz, Lillhassla Vineyard, Sweeden

We have all heard that cellar-door tastings have been seriously affected by the current Covid-19 pandemic. This has caused especial consternation among wine-makers who rely on direct-to-customer sales. It has also, of course, annoyed those who wish to partake in wine tourism.

However, this has not been the slightest problem here in Sweden. This is because here is no such thing as cellar-door sales. READ MORE…

Science & Wine: Evaluation of the intrinsic and perceived quality of sangiovese wines from California and Italy

Sangiovese wines were collected from the main wine areas in California and Tuscany, and chemically and sensory compared in order to highlight similarities and differences.

Sangiovese is the most cultivated red grape variety in Italy where it is certified for the production of several Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) wines, and it is one of the most cultivated Italian red grape varieties in California. Despite the global distribution of this variety, there is a lack of international studies on Sangiovese grapes and wines. That was the main reason that convince the two researcher groups from the University of Florence and UCDavis to begin a two years comparison between Sangiovese wines from Italy and California. READ MORE…

Great British Wine: Kinsbrook Vineyard

Joseph Beckett and girlfriend Rebecca, Kinsbrook Vineyard
Joseph Beckett and girlfriend Rebecca, Kinsbrook Vineyard

‘From The Ground Up’: this is the motto at Kinsbrook Vineyard. Currently Kinsbrook consists of 44,500 vines across three sites in West Chiltington, West Sussex, with a main hub at the Picketty site, where they have a converted horsebox and Greenhouse Restaurant.

With help from his family and girlfriend, Rebecca, Joseph Beckett has turned the family farm into a vineyard, and soon to be tourist destination, with ambitious plans to build a farm shop, complete with a bakery, butcher’s and café. Speaking to Rebecca and Joseph, one can easily feel the enthusiasm and energy emanating from them about their vision, and also sense the potential to turn humble beginnings into a must-visit destination in West Sussex.

Planting a vineyard on the family farm was an idea that was first discussed in 2006 whilst Joseph was still at school. But it wasn’t until a few years later when Joseph had not only finished school, but returned from his travels in New Zealand, that the idea really took off. Inspired by the wine tourism that he experienced in New Zealand at just 21, his mission became clear for the future of the family farm. READ MORE…

BK Wine Magazine: Pouilly-Fuissé in Burgundy gets premier cru vineyards, lots of them

Chardonnay just brought in from harvest in Burgundy, copyright BKWine Photography

22 “climats”, a vineyard or a vineyard plot in Burgundian parlance, in Pouilly-Fuissé in southern Burgundy can from now on put “premier cru” on the label. It has taken ten years since the process started, which is quite normal. Since 2010, the appellation Pouilly-Fuissé and INAO (Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité) have studied the 22 vineyards, their specific growing conditions, their history and their reputation. In total, the 22 plots cover 194 hectares, which is a massive 24% of the entire AOP Pouilly-Fuissé. They are located in four municipalities (communes), Chaintré, Fuissé, Solutré-Pouilly and Vergisson.

This is slightly different from the Cote d’Or where premier cru is an appellation. Here, premier cru is just a “mention” that the producer can add to the AOP Pouilly-Fuissé. READ MORE…

Masters of Wine: Digital celebration for 23 new Masters of Wine

The Institute of Masters of Wine has released a digital celebration to welcome 23 new Masters of Wine to its membership. The short film replaces the postponed 2020 annual awards ceremony, which should have been held this November at Vintners’ Hall, London.
The Institute of Masters of Wine has released a digital celebration to welcome 23 new Masters of Wine to its membership. The short film replaces the postponed 2020 annual awards ceremony, which should have been held this November at Vintners’ Hall, London.

The Institute of Masters of Wine has released a digital celebration to welcome 23 new Masters of Wine to its membership. The short film replaces the postponed 2020 annual awards ceremony, which should have been held this November at Vintners’ Hall, London.

In addition to highlighting the new Masters of Wine, the film stars a cast of MWs from around the world, expressing their congratulations to the new members. READ MORE…


Jamie Goode: Remembering Mike Weersing, an American who brought something special to New Zealand’s fine wine dimension

Tribute to Mike Weersing, an inspiring biodynamic winegrower who established a remarkable vineyard in North Canterbury, New Zealand

Mike Weersing
Mike Weersing

Mike hailed from California. After studying art history and literature, and left his home town in the California redwoods to head for the bright lights of Manhattan. There, he worked in art history and publishing, but this turned out not to be his vocation. ‘I love literature, but not the business’, Mike told me. ‘I love art, but I’m not an artist, and I love music, but I don’t like the music business.’ It was when he spent time with Josh Jensen at Calera in California, that Mike realized wine was actually quite interesting, and he began a journey that was to lead him to New Zealand. It was Pinot that most excited him, and he did a harvest in Oregon with Evesham Wood. Mike studied oenology and viticulture in Burgundy, and then built up a remarkable CV, working for a star-studded cast of producers (including de Montille, Potel, Pousse d’Or, Kreydenweiss, Deiss and Loosen). READ MORE…

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Educational posts are in no way intended as official WSET study materials. I am not an official WSET educator nor do I work for a WSET Approved Program Provider. Study at your own risk. Read the full disclaimer.
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