The Life of an MW Student – Thirty Six

Albert Einstein famously said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So why did I start this year’s attempt at the MW exams by sitting at my desk every morning, studiously writing answers to old exam questions – with no wine in front of me?

Waking up at 5:00 every morning, endlessly poring over the minutiae of wine regions. What is the difference between Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé? How might one distinguish Stellenbosch Syrah from one made in Swartland? What is the typical level of sugar of a Rheingau Riesling Spätlese?

The honest truth is that I was doing everything I could to avoid actually tasting any wine. When you’re writing dry notes (answers to questions with no wine in front of you), it’s impossible to ‘get it wrong’. You can write better or worse arguments, but your final answer will always be correct (because you knew what it was in the first place).

After some reflection, I am no longer spending every morning writing notes. I have spent four years perfecting my arguments, and gilding the lily even more will not help me to pass these exams. I have replaced my morning study sessions with visits to the gym or runs in the park, with a view to building the confidence I need to avoid another exam-induced panic.

My studies now solely consist of facing my fears and tasting. Every evening, without fail, I am at my dining room table with two to six glasses of wine (and a spittoon, I might add). Focusing on weaknesses is difficult, but the satisfaction that comes when you finally start getting things consistently right is pretty hard to beat.

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