The life of an MW student – One

I should have begun writing this six months ago. That was when I finally bit the bullet and submitted my application to the Institute of Masters of Wine (spoiler alert – I got in). In all honesty, though, it took these six months to get over a severe case of imposter syndrome, start taking myself and my studies seriously, and to build up the courage to write – and post – this story.

The MW is a three year self-study programme which requires candidates to develop a deep and global understanding of every facet of the wine world. They must also hone their tasting skills to the point where they can distinguish not only the grape variety of a wine, but also the region of origin, production method, vintage and quality level.

The exams are notoriously difficult. The three practical papers require the utmost accuracy of tasting and clarity of communication. Five theory papers (viticulture, winemaking, the handling of wine, the business of wine, and contemporary issues) demand a global understanding of the wine world, an arsenal of real-life examples, and the ability to construct a well-thought out and persuasive argument. As many Masters of Wine have told me, the institute doesn’t want people who can read books – they want people who can write them.

And once you’ve passed these exams (which takes most candidates several attempts), your work is still not done. Would-be MWs must complete a 6-10,000 word Research Paper. This can be of any topic the student chooses, with the stipulation that it must make a contribution to the understanding of the world of wine.

So, that’s what I’ve let myself in for. Over the next few posts, I’ll bring you up to speed with what’s happened over the past six months. On my disastrous first attempt at an MW essay. On my first encounter with ‘The Institute’, which was exhilarating and terrifying in equal measures. And, on the week-long seminar in Austria which I can confidently say was the most intense week of my entire life. Stay tuned!