Masters of Wine: The Test

Categories: Vine Geeks


Welcome to Vine Geeks, where Brian Reeder and Pavle Milic of AZ Wine Merchants take the drinking game quite seriously. Pay attention -- you might just learn something.

This past week, a record 98 students took the test to obtain their Masters of Wine, trying to join the mere 298 worldwide who currently hold the title. The test involves comprehensive wine theory (writing four papers) and a rigorous practical exam (three blind tastings over three days). If they pass both areas, the candidate has to submit a dissertation to the board of education for The Institute of Masters of Wine.

Subject matter is said to include everything wine-related -- questions could pertain to soil types, grape growing, winemaking, selling wine, marketing, and everything in between. Here are a few questions that were on this year's test:

When and how should racking be carried out? Assess the risks and benefits of the different procedures in racking wines.

What practical steps may be taken to avoid Brettanomyces contamination in a winery, and why?

Analyze the ways in which changing the trellising system in a vineyard can have an impact on the yields and health of the vines.

What technical issues should be considered when assessing any THREE of the following packaging formats for wine?
a) Lightweight glass bottles
b) Tetra prisma
c) PET
d) Bag-in-box

Okay, so I'm glad I'm waiting until next year to apply.

One time in college I drank pretty heavily the night before an exam, and, the next morning, I wandered into the wrong testing room. It wasn't until midway through the second essay question that I realized not only did I not have a clue what I had written, but that I did not know a damn thing about marine biology. Only then did I understand the inquisitive looks from the master's students sitting around my wildly hungover sophomoric self. I quickly excused myself and dragged myself to my finance exam, where I didn't fare much better.

I feel like this test would have gone about the same. Except that at least I could have been drinking during this one.

Here are all the wines the 98 brave souls tasted and identified such characteristics as specific origin and grape varieties.They also had to compare and contrast among groups, and discuss quality and style of winemaking.

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