In the modern era, wine education and certification are tied to systems and cultures of white supremacy, gatekeeping, and patriarchy. Why the Court of Master Sommeliers, and other certifying bodies, need to be dismantled

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Photo by Girl with red hat on Unsplash

The saddest part about the recent news story about the twenty-one women who spoke to the New York Times about the sexual harassment rampant in the Court Of Master Sommeliers (CMS) and a separate but equally guilty arm of education at GuildSomm isn’t that their private lives are now spectacle, it’s that it wasn’t a surprise to a lot of people. It shocked those who weren’t adjacent to those circles, it angered lots of us who are, and it leaves us wondering about the what-ifs and the what-could-I-have-dones when the damage and the trauma are already deep.

What it further…


A how-to guide on how you and everyone else around you in the wine industry can change it for the better, one action at a time

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Photo by Andrew “Donovan” Valdivia on Unsplash

THINGS YOU CAN DO TODAY

1. ACKNOWLEDGE THE PROBLEM. Don’t bungle it like GuildSomm (I would link to their post but they deleted it!) or the Court of Master Sommeliers: if all it takes is you or your organization to say Black Lives Matter, say it. Admit that they do. And don’t give us the racist “aLL LiVeS mAtTeR” caveat that comes along with that — when a guest asks for Sancerre, do you…


We are in an extraordinary position to talk about the systemic changes necessary in order for the future and survival of sommeliership and the wine industry. There might not be many sommeliers working due to COVID-19, but there is still wine. There will always be wine. There will always be a structure for educating our staff and community about wine, but the current practices of legitimacy in the industry are rooted in a denial of access and education, kept behind closed doors with barriers of entry that are much too high.

The recent killings of Black people have also impacted…


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Use better words to describe this color, Troy. You earned a degree in journalism for fuck’s sake.

Troy, Troy, Troy: this sounds like a case of what we youngs say is “yucking someone’s yum.” It’s a bad, selfish take. The overarching pleasure of wine is the delight in sharing it and enjoying it, but also understanding that its very existence and each experience thus attached is valid.

But let’s also ponder why you had to write a two-star Yelp review about orange wine: “Each bottle of wine on offer was a natural wine… One of these, from Friuli, glowed tropically in my candlelit glass. The list explained orange wine as a white wine that is made like…


the only one in the room

I was most recently at a wine conference where I was a panelist, and among the group of sommeliers they’d selected, the only one who was a person of color; there was only one other minority person and she was a white woman. The rest of the group were privileged, able, cis white men, some of whom owned their own businesses.

I didn’t feel like I stuck out like a sore thumb until I got to the grand tasting and it was myself and a handful of Asians — literally, I could count all…


Tamà is closed. In the version of what it was most currently, it won’t come back. Sad to say it, truly. But there’s hope for us yet.

Two years ago we were presented with an opportunity that felt too good to be true: our own space serving our own food to a neighborhood that we felt was deeply underserved and was worth getting to know. Bed-Stuy had never seen a Filipino restaurant, and where we were situated was along a food desert, populated only by a spare bodega here and there or a shuttered Chinese takeaway. …


I’ve really only felt alienated by language when I have to resort to pointing at pictures on a menu, or more often than not, a number, since there is no more depressing and aggravating feeling than not being able to communicate when you’re hungry. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve had the propensity to learn other languages, so traveling isn’t so difficult until the words become things that look like other things in which case we all resort to pointing. Sometimes, not even at the menu, but at what looks good enough to eat, and with no bargaining power.

At the…

Miguel de Leon

restaurant operator, wine director, sommelier. cal 05, nyc since 07. MNL -> LAX -> SFO -> NYC. //\\//\\ ig @migueld1 tw @migueld // he/him

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