A personal MW equation (M + W = Success)
It is common secret that the way to master your knowledge is all about being passionate, patient and, well, bit gifted when it comes to wine in particular. So although a mathematical model might assist to finish the line of the MW marathon, it is not an easy task to fit in all ingredients of success into a single equation.
With the notorious MW exam approaching later this June for the MW candidates, my mind travel backs to time when I was starting my own journey to become an MW. First it was the First Year Assessment (what is now called Stage 1 in the three Stages MW program) that leads to the essence of the examination, the MW Exam (Stage 2) consisting of the exhaustive Theory and the Practical parts. And let's not forget about Stage 3 and the very demanding Research Paper which is the last challenge so far...
This year I went back to Rust in Austria where the Stage 1 Seminar takes place and where everything starts for all candidates and I also had the privilege of offering some help to the Italian MW candidates for the tough Practical part. This makes me think what is the key to success and how can I express it in an equation...
Pruning in Kamptal in Heiligenstein vineyard (Stage 1)
Really can it be that hard to discover? I guess so, though guidelines do exist and it is more of a personal success story. Yet in general the Practical part consisting of tasting 36 wines blind of course, is usually the harder and the one with the lowest passing rate. To have real chance in passing that I would say one needs to spot seven wines and have good structure for all and especially the ones he missed.
Another advice to bear in mind is that when not sure, it is better to be cautious rather than brave so as not to get (over)exposed. Difficult to balance such approach with the authoritative style you are deemed to have as a Master of Wine. Especially for me, being based in Greece with limitations on the availability of wines to taste, this was the hardest part and this is why in my equation the Practical Part gets 50% weight.
When it comes to the Theory part, you will have to confront five Papers. Yes, five Papers and fourteen essays if not mistaken! My suggestion is to go for a topic only if you have in mind four to five sound examples about it. Detailed examples and a proper structure is the key for a solid paper that flows nicely. This part gets another 30% and requires compressing all the knowledge in your mind and unzipping it during the exam. Not so stressful yet very important and a real marathon for sure.
Last but not least the Research Paper which one may think that is easy to get but in reality it is equally demanding and tricky. There you enter unchartered waters that require other traits and talents, mathematics and statistics and an academic support. Finding a topic may be the biggest challenge. Research Paper gets another 10%.
So there you go: my MW equation is 50% Practical, 30% Theory and 10% Research Paper leaving 10% for some equally important secret ingredients.
Be confident, be innovative, be strong and FOCUS!
Best of luck to all! In vino veritas!
* Some photos of the majestic time in Rust and during the Practical sessions in Italy