The stages in becoming a Master of Wine
There are three main stages to complete once you have met the eligibility criteria; obtaining a high-level degree or diploma in the field of wine. Such as, the 4 levels of WSET, or a degree like the Advanced Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommelier. You then have to submit a testing paper and a letter of recommendation from other MW’s or well-respected wine professionals.
The first stage comprises of a 5-day residential seminar and 4 non-residential course days throughout the rest of the year. These seminars cover topics that encompass all aspects of the wine industry.
There’s also a 2-part exam that consists of two written theory essays and 12 blind wine tastings.
This all must be completed within 2 years of starting the program
The second stage comprises of a week long seminars and several course days where candidates participate in training to undergo the rigorous examination.
The exam itself is four days encompassing tasting 36 wines blind and a theory assessment on viticulture, vinification, pre-bottling procedures, wine handling, wine business, and contemporary issues.
The second stage of the program must be completed within 6 years or 5 attempts at the exam.
The final stage comprises of a research report with a word count between 6,000-10,000.
The dissertation topic must be relevant to the wine community and contribute to enhancing the wine industry. It can be about topics from any area of the sciences, arts, humanities, social sciences, or any other discipline as long as it relates to the understanding of the world of wine.
The report must be completed within 5 years.
Getting to MW took a lot of hard work. I passed the theory in 2012 but couldn’t nail the practical exam despite multiple tries. In total, I attempted the exam six times.
After taking a year-long break from the program, I returned in 2016 and passed both the theory and practical exam. I was thrilled to pass the research paper section on my first try!
I chose to write about the best practices for practical barrel sanitation and explored the financial and environmental impacts of each treatment as well as microbial effectiveness.
Becoming a Master of Wine changed the way that I look at winemaking. I view it from a much more global level and feel as it’s drastically expanded my creativity when it comes to crafting wines.
The knowledge that the WSET Diploma and the MW have given me, have allowed me to apply different techniques from around the world to specific situations in a new way.