Monday, February 6, 2017


Finally, Ladies, a new wine credential that will take the Miss out of wine misogyny. FemSomm! FemSomm is an idea whose time has come. Tired of being 10% of the ManSomm population? Weary of mentors who undress to help you study for the “Service” Exam? Ready to be treated as an equal in the competitive wine world? Then it’s time you began to study for your F.S.! FemSomms are the next big thing in wine!

It's about time that women had their own wine credential. Men have had Master Sommelier and Master of Wine all to themselves for decades. Oh sure, there are a few token women with MS or MW credentials, rather like there are a few Mexicans in the NBA. But maybe there needs to be a sorority to go with the fraternity that is the wine business. 

You can read about some of the courses offered, testosterone-free, by the Court of Female Sommeliers by jumping over to Tim Atkin's distinguished site. Please leave your studied and witty comments over there, or, if you must, wrap them in a powder blue Tiffany box and leave them here. 

I probably should have been a lot harsher in this piece. Maybe next time...



AmitiesJerome said...

Absolutely brilliant Ron!

obillo said...

Shouldn't it be Boudoir of Feminine Sommeliers?

Aaron said...

Well played HoseMaster, well played :)

Amy said...

"...meat thief." LOL. You are a genius, HMW!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

The MS program began nearly 50 years ago. I'm too lazy to look up the date it started. It's unimportant. Women make up roughly 10% of the Master Sommelier population. That's shameful. There are no excuses for that. Though I'm sure folks will make some up. MW ain't much better.

I have also met quite a few young women who, while studying for their wine degrees, were sexually harassed by "mentors," and other men in the trade. This angers me. Anyone who says those organizations are not Old Boy Clubs is a fool. They are, and it's time they were called to account.

So I decided to satirize the misogyny of the wine credential programs. This piece will anger a lot of people, has angered a lot of people. Fuck them. I will say this, if a woman writes a piece like this, it's read as whiny, or shrill--sexist buzzwords. If I write it, maybe it will generate some discussion. I was uncomfortable writing it for the obvious reason that I'm not a woman, and I'm arguably an Old Boy. I did the best I could.

My wife came to me this morning after reading this piece and told me she liked it, and that she was proud of me. That's what I care about. I'm not going to stop with this subject. I hate being part of a business which too often treats young women, well, all women, disrespectfully.

It's sadly accepted that it's a different path for a woman to be successful in the wine business. I can't change that, but I certainly don't have to be quiet about it.

Marcia Macomber said...

Loved it! Stinging satire at its best. Of course, some may have difficulty recognizing it. I can only hope/guess that most women readers will recognize it's been written in their support. Satire is most effective right against the is this piece.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Marcia Love,
Thank you. I've caught some flak for the piece, and all from women. Sigh. But I don't care. I like flak! I eat flak for breakfast, with milk on it.

And after the silliness of last week's rant, it was challenging to write this piece. I'm not in love with it, but I know how hard it was to do, to get the tone where I wanted it, and to say some hard truths and not look totally like a dick. It pleased the people who matter to me. The rest, I don't care even one little bit.


Charlie Olken said...

I am a little worried that some will confuse Fem Somm with Fem Dom. Or maybe that's the point.

I hear you itching to name names of the offending MS boys. No doubt they deserve it. But if this keen satire is to have any legs in the real world, it wonder if it is not up to the offended women to speak out now that you have laid the groundwork so brilliantly.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Actually, I think most of those women would be fearful it would cost them some standing in the wine world to talk about being discriminated against, or harassed, and they'd probably be right. I would say it's up to other men, the ones who treat women as equals, to police the offenders. I don't see that happening.

Maybe I'm wrong about all this, and the wine world is just one big happy, non-sexist family. I almost never see the subject raised, and never by a woman (though I don't read that much online), so maybe I'm crying horny wolf. But I don't think so.

Oh well, it was a fun exercise in satire. I can live with that.

Charlie Olken said...

You make a good point which should be added directly on top of mine. No one can turn a deaf ear to abuse, and that includes men.

But what I don't hear is a deafening cry from women, and yet the most effective voices in the anti-immigration blowup are those of women who are coming out to rallies, marches, sit-ins, town halls, etc in numbers that put men to shame.

As brilliant as your piece was, it has not exactly stirred up a hornet's nest by either men or women, and yet it should have.

But, all movements begin small, and there certainly can be no room in any part of our biz for discrimination or abuse.

Stephen Skelton MW said...

Master of Wine is MUCH better than 10% since women were allowed to be members in about 1986 (?). If you take the last 15 years I bet the number is nearer 50:50. Someone from the IMW help please.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

It's always been a civilized business where it's expected that if you can't say something nice, you shouldn't say anything at all. Only that's not really civilized. I didn't expect much of a reaction to this piece, and perhaps it doesn't deserve much of one (it's kind of you to imply my piece was brilliant, but it wasn't). It was meant to bring up the subject in a satiric way, and only because I was angry at some stories I'd been told recently, and which I think are not uncommon. There are days I have too much of the knight in shining armor syndrome for my own good. It's a satirist's disease.

Thank you. I don't have much of a problem with the MW program, though I mentioned it. I know it's much more of an anonymous process than other programs, which takes much of the Old Boys Club part out of it. My piece was clumsy, but it tried to address the way women are treated in the wine business. There is much room for improvement.