Frequently Asked Questions

All students follow a self-directed programme and are supported by an annual, residential seminar, occasional course days and one-to-one advice from mentors who are Masters of Wine. The Study Programme does not therefore demand large periods of time away from employment. However, it does require discipline and motivation to keep up with the level of study required. After passing the Stage 1 Assessment and both the Theory and Practical parts of the Examination, students then research and write a 6,000 - 10,000 word Research Paper , again with the support of a Master of Wine mentor.

What does the programme involve?

It is a guided, self-study programme which lasts a minimum of three years. Its aim is to help candidates prepare themselves for the MW Exam, by outlining the syllabus, and highlighting strengths and weaknesses in a student's knowledge, understanding or experience; introducing the concept of critical analysis and evaluation; helping to hone some of the skills and techniques required in the examination, particularly the practical tasting element; and facilitating self-learning and providing regular assessment of the student's development.

Each year on the programme involves a compulsory, annual Seminar. These Seminars, led by Masters of Wine and accompanied by internationally recognised speakers, take place from November to February  in Australasia, Europe and North America.

Once a student has successfully passed both the Practical and Theory parts of the MW Examination they then start work on the third part of the Examination - the Research Paper.

Where can I study?

You can study and take the Examination on three continents: Europe, Australasia and North America. You can choose to change centres at the end of each year, if, for example, you move your job, home or would like to broaden your geographical perspective.

The European programme consists of a residential Seminar and course days over the academic year. The residential seminars are held in different locations across Europe, currently in Austria, France and the UK. The course days are held in London. The Australasian and North American programmes also have a residential Seminar and course days. 

What should I expect in Stage 1 of the programme?

The aim of the Study Programme is not to teach, but to assist students in preparing for the Examination. Students are introduced to the breadth of the syllabus and encouraged to identify at the outset any potential areas of weakness in their knowledge, understanding or experience. Working with Masters of Wine, they develop the skills and techniques required in the Practical part of the Examination and also build their own self-Study Programme. A course day typically begins with a blind tasting in the morning, led by MWs, and is followed by afternoon lectures from MWs and specialist guest speakers in senior positions across the industry. During the year, you will have several essay assignments.  Many students find it useful to form study groups where they can meet and practise blind tasting.

How will I be assessed?

At the end of Stage 1 students sit a Theory paper and a written Practical tasting paper.  This is known as the Stage 1 Assessment. Papers are marked by a panel of MWs under the supervision of the Education Committee to assess if students are ready to advance to Stage 2 of the programme.

What if English is not my first language?

The teaching is all in English. As with the Examination, you may write The theory part of the Stage 1 Assessment in your own language, and the Institute will arrange for the paper to be translated.  The tasting portion must be written in English, although you may use a dictionary. 

What should I expect at Stage 2?

This Stage is designed to help with the intensive build up to the examination. The Seminar follows a similar format to the Stage 1 Seminar but it has more emphasis on examination technique, question interpretation and tasting workshops, with feedback given on students’ progress.

What does the Research Paper involve?

The Research Paper is a 6,000 - 10,000 word study or thesis on a topic of relevance to the wine industry, researched and written after passing the Theory and Practical parts of the examination.  Students choose their own topics.  An MW Mentor is assigned to each student to help guide them through the process.   

Mentor Support

Each student is assigned an MW who will act as his or her mentor over the course of the  Education Programme. All mentors give their time voluntarily and receive no remuneration. The mentor will advise students about structuring and monitoring their revision programme, and they will comment on the assignments - the essays and tasting questions -  centrally set to the students.  Students writing Research Papers will normally be supported by a different mentor, who will provide guidance principally on the process. 

Further information

To learn more about the study programme please email our Education Officer Angus Brook, abrook@mastersofwine.org.