Since it was published last week, I have thought a lot about the blistering New York Times exposé, The Wine World’s Most Elite Circle Has a Sexual Harassment Problem. Julia Moskin’s blow-by-blow reporting was gut wrenching for any woman in the wine business—gut wrenching because it reminds us just how pervasive and ugly sexual predation is in the wine industry. And for the predators involved, it wasn’t just about (maybe not even mostly about) the sex. It was about small men getting to feel powerful. The Court of Master Sommelier’s response on Instagram could not have been more limp. Sexual harassment of women in the wine industry has been going on (condoned and laughed about by the men at the top) for decades. To suggest the Court will NOW “investigate all accusations” is as pathetic as it is cowardly.
Addendum: The Court of Master Sommeliers has now issued a second, somewhat more firm, response to the claims of sexual harassment alleged in the New York Times article. The Court has also suspended seven male Master Sommeliers from Court activities, although not from the Court itself. Among those suspended was Fred Dame, the founder (in 1986) of the American Branch of the Court of Master Sommeliers. Dame is also the first American to have served as president of the Court of Master Sommeliers Worldwide.