Master sommeliers are getting a title change.
The Court of Master Sommeliers announced it will update the title of “master sommelier.” The change comes as the group announced it will work to play a part in diversifying the wine industry.
Master sommeliers have traditionally been referred to as “master,” followed by the title holder’s last name. The Court of Master Sommeliers has decided to change the reference to “master sommelier,” still followed by the last name, The New York Times reported.
Master sommeliers will now be referred to as “Master Sommelier” as opposed to just “Master.”
This decision was reportedly at least partially inspired by a story recently shared by Tahiirah Habibi, the founder of Hue Society, which works to bring diversity to wine culture. She discussed her experience taking a two-day exam to become part of the Court of Master Sommeliers with the newspaper.
Habibi said she was told to address the instructors as “master,” which made her uncomfortable due to the historical weight of the title. While she passed the first round, she did not return for the remainder.
According to The New York Times, Devon Broglie, the chairman of the court’s board of directors, said that the court was learning “the ways in which our words might create an unwelcoming environment for our students and candidates.”
“In this instance, it was hearing the story of Tahiirah Habibi that brought so clearly and deeply into focus how hurtful our words can be, however unintentional,” Broglie said.
In an open letter, Broglie wrote about other efforts the court was taking to improve diversity, including providing its members with implicit bias training and exploring “multiple avenues for additional scholarship opportunities and other creative ways to increase the diversity of those who take our courses and examinations.”