I write this having returned yesterday from the annual MW student study seminar. This is an intensive, bootcamp-like week which aims to get students fighting fit and ready for sixteen weeks of focused revision before the 2023 exams.
This is the third seminar I have been on, and it felt different to the last three. The first two years for me were a mix of learning, making friends and having lots of fun. This year I was much more focused. Have I finally grown up, I wondered? I found myself eschewing beers in the bar in favour of an early night. There has been a marked shift in my priorities and getting through the exams in June is right there at the top.
The week was fascinating, stimulating and utterly exhausting. We began each day with a twelve wine blind tasting paper of two hours and fifteen minutes, followed by a feedback session. These sessions, for me at least, were a total rollercoaster ride. I could go from feeling like I really have a good shot at actually passing these exams to the world’s worst taster in the space of five minutes.
Having got through the theory exams last year, I now find myself in the ‘Practical Only’ group. This means that instead of afternoon lectures on winemaking, business or viticulture, we had more tasting. A real highlight (very geeky, I know) was an MW winemaker from the south of France who had specially created six different versions of exactly the same Chardonnay, each with very slight winemaking tweaks. This was utterly fascinating and extremely helpful for the exam, during which we are often asked to describe the winemaking process of a particular sample, based only on what we can taste (or, to use the IMW phrasing, ‘evidence from the glass).
A brief period of reflection is now called for – to digest the enormous amount of information I learned during last week, and to create a sixteen week plan which will, I hope, lead me to wine tasting success.