The Life of an MW Student – Twenty

As I write this, my first attempt at the Master of Wine exams is just over two weeks away. I say first attempt, because it is highly likely that I will not pass. This isn’t because I haven’t worked hard, nor because I don’t have what it takes to eventually become a Master of Wine. It is simply because the pass rate is incredibly low. Like 15% low. The hardest thing about studying on this programme isn’t the work itself – it’s the mental battle of staying motivated for an exam that you are so likely to fail.

Here are a few ways that the MW exam has taken over my life:

I am constantly tired. This is because I spend 6:00-8:00 every morning preparing revision materials. This morning my topic was the uses and impacts of sulfur dioxide in viticulture and winemaking. Chemistry is not my strong point. If you had told me after sitting my GCSEs (and in theory leaving chemistry behind forever) that I would have the pH scale and periodic table out again, aged 33, I think I would have cried.

The constant soundtrack to my life is podcasts about wine. Doing the washing up? Listen to a podcast. Running around Ducklington Lake? Listen to a podcast. Writing an article about my MW studies? Listen to a podcast.

I no longer just ‘have a glass of wine’. Every glass is a learning opportunity! So, if I fancy a glass of rosé on a sunny evening, I will put three in the fridge, and ask my husband to pour a sample of each. My job is then to tell him which is which (and then drink them all).

My Whatsapp conversation history is now filled with frantic exchanges with my study group on increasingly esoteric subjects from the impact of the covid-19 lockdown on South African wineries to the production method of Palo Cortado Sherry.

The one really positive thing to cling on to through all of this is that in less than three weeks, it will all be over. With the results coming out in autumn, I will have all summer to get my life back and hope that I’m part of the 15%.

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