16 new MWs. Do we care?

Jancis had a background in journalism, and I believe she was one of the first people (possibly THE first) from outside The Trade to become an MW.

Yes, she was the first. I remember it well.

When I did WSET classes and exams in the early '80s I was the only person not ITB on the courses, but I couldn't go on to do the Diploma as that was restricted to people ITB, and was a prerequisite for MW, which was also restricted to those ITB..

There were many more ITB then, the classroom was full of assistants from local branches of Victoria Wine, Threshers, Peter Dominic etc - all those chains that were everywhere and no longer exist. They sent their staff on WSET courses, paid for the courses and gave them the time off.
 
But what is the MW actually for? I dont care whether my wine merchant has a MW in-situ or not. In the age of t'internet doesn't the acquisition of relevant knowledge become easier and reduces the need for such exams? I dont really care where my wine merchant gets their knowledge from.

It's not about knowledge. It's about understanding. Anyone google facts nowadays. It's about bringing all the knowledge together and making it relevant to a consumer. We are communicators, not automatons
 
If you are in any trade, getting higher qualifications is generally good for your career and development, there’s no issues with that. From a consumers perspective I wouldn’t think most people are either aware or care, and that’s fine too.
From my limited wine education, the sheer range and variety of wine now makes it feel like being a wine expert is almost impossible and specialisation is essential for real deep expertise.
I’ve talked to a few MW candidates and get a general gist that the diploma sucks a lot of the fun out of wine but that comes back for the MW, and I would hope that’s true as losing the fun about a subject that’s your passion is very depressing indeed
 
If you think working to get an MW is a long and tough slog, try getting a PhD in a subject like theoretical physics from scratch.

Most MW students have full time jobs, whilst I would imagine PhD students are full time students, with tutors, and the support of an established academic institution. I am not saying we're superheroes, but it's worth mentioning this.
 
Location
London
If you are in any trade, getting higher qualifications is generally good for your career and development, there’s no issues with that. From a consumers perspective I wouldn’t think most people are either aware or care, and that’s fine too.
From my limited wine education, the sheer range and variety of wine now makes it feel like being a wine expert is almost impossible and specialisation is essential for real deep expertise.
I’ve talked to a few MW candidates and get a general gist that the diploma sucks a lot of the fun out of wine but that comes back for the MW, and I would hope that’s true as losing the fun about a subject that’s your passion is very depressing indeed
That certainly wasn't true in 1997 when the only place to do the Diploma was in the main building in Upper Thames Street. We had truly inspirational teachers, many MW's and experts in their field, plus some really representative and excellent wines to taste. I fear that excellence has been diluted with the massive expansion since.
 
Most MW students have full time jobs, whilst I would imagine PhD students are full time students, with tutors, and the support of an established academic institution. I am not saying we're superheroes, but it's worth mentioning this.
Really not worth comparing an MW to a PhD. One is a professional qualification (without any formal accreditation) the other is an academic one. I’ve a few friends who have completed the MW and have nothing but respect for them. It’s a tough gig and I’m glad to see more people taking it. Hopefully it can only help increase the quality and diversity of wine we enjoy and broaden our vineous horizons.
 
Last edited:
If the selections in British supermarkets are being chosen by MWs, what does that say? IMO the wines presented to consumers (95% of the population) is quite poor and more limited than it was 25 years ago, even if, technically, the wines are more consistent.

My personal experience with MWs as wine gatekeepers is that they tend to be more rigid about what wines they will consider and which they won't. Not because they understand the consumer better but because they have opinions formed by textbooks and articles (probably written by fellow MWs). For example, I once presented my wines to a wine shop where one partner tasted the wines, loved them and wanted to order. The other partner was an MW and decided to reject them, without tasting, because he thought that my vineyards were at the wrong altitude for my region.
 
I think the large multiples don't generally feel the need to employ MWs these days (directly or indirectly) and there are probably lots of reasons for this. I enjoyed the MW study for many reasons (which isn't the general point being made here: but whatever the external relevance of the qualification it can add value to your life more generally in a business, academic and personal sense). Actually the most relevant thing the MW taught me (among many things) is how to properly undertake a proper research project (that which the class of 86 were, rightly, very focused upon not so long ago). And the way that the tasting exams force you to assess/evaluate using a highly limited evidence base. I agree with Richard's point that part of the challenge of the MW (and other such qualifications) is studying whilst you are holding down a full time job and perhaps bringing up a young family. Oh and yes its quite nice tasting some fairly flash wines along the way. Congratulations to the people that passed today.
 
If the selections in British supermarkets are being chosen by MWs, what does that say? IMO the wines presented to consumers (95% of the population) is quite poor and more limited than it was 25 years ago, even if, technically, the wines are more consistent.

Is that not mostly a price issue? in real terms the £5 bottles that are the staples of supermarkets are astonishingly cheap, historically speaking, and when only a few pence is left for the actual wine component it is amazing that sometimes they can be quite drinkable.
Certainly if we went back to 1995 we would find a relative embarrassment of riches, but going back another fifteen years the story would be quite different, and that progress had much to do with MWs.
 
Thirty years ago I was probably Aspiring to MW , 20 years ago I was aspiring to have the finest cellar. Fifteen years ago I realised the latter was probably more achievable and More desirable.
Congratulations to those that passed today and fully recognise their efforts. Personally I don’t really want to know about wines from China or Romania, but am happy to have the finest wines from the Cotes de Nuits over several vintages harboured for me and family ,If an MW recommends a Latvian wine from X supermarket at £4.99 , I hope they are getting well paid for it. That said I’m not exclusive to such joy. Just glad I have not had to study for it !
 
Most MW students have full time jobs, whilst I would imagine PhD students are full time students, with tutors, and the support of an established academic institution. I am not saying we're superheroes, but it's worth mentioning this.
A fair and balanced point. Actually a significant proportion of (UK) PhD students are part time - but I have no idea how many, and to be fair they probably do not include many theoretical physicists.
 
Bit of a sour and ungenerous OP. Can you troll your own forum!

The MW marketing/PR operation would not be doing its job properly if it wasn’t bigging up this year’s graduates. And as a wine journalist you wouldn’t be doing yours if you weren’t hooked into the network and on the receiving end of all the online chatter.

Congrats to everyone that put in the hard yards - the MW is still quite the achievement on both a personal and professional level.
 
Well, I am fairly confident I would never be able to pass it. I shall go on enjoying wine in my own little sphere. Interestingly, quite a few of the better known wine writers don't have the qualification; Parker, Galloni, Martin, Tanzer, Cannavan etc. So it is possible to do well without it.

I'm surprised no one has come up with the Groucho Marx quote.
 
Thirty years ago I was probably Aspiring to MW , 20 years ago I was aspiring to have the finest cellar. Fifteen years ago I realised the latter was probably more achievable and More desirable.
Congratulations to those that passed today and fully recognise their efforts. Personally I don’t really want to know about wines from China or Romania, but am happy to have the finest wines from the Cotes de Nuits over several vintages harboured for me and family ,If an MW recommends a Latvian wine from X supermarket at £4.99 , I hope they are getting well paid for it. That said I’m not exclusive to such joy. Just glad I have not had to study for it !

I am totally at the other end of this spectrum David.

Is the knowledge of an MW better used to add their opinion to the mass of voices rating recent vintages / producers for a well healed geekdom and investors. Or to get out and champion interesting producers and affordable, enticing wines to inspire everyday consumers?
 
Top