The MW Examination
The Masters of Wine Examination was first held in 1953 and has been set every year since. It is accepted to be the hardest test of knowledge and ability in the world of wine. It is designed to test the breadth and depth of a candidate's theoretical knowledge and practical skills in the art, science and business of wine. The standard of the exam remains as rigorous today as it was in 1953, when only six out of the 21 candidates passed. Each year the questions are set by a panel of MWs and marked by MWs and leading figures in the world of wine.
Structure of the Exam
The exam currently consists of three parts:
Theory - five three-hour question papers on viticulture, vinification and pre-bottling procedures, the handling of wine, the business of wine, and contemporary issues.
Practical - three 12-wine blind tastings, each lasting two and a quarter hours, in which wines must be assessed for variety, origin, winemaking, quality and style. Practical papers must be written in English.
The Theory and Practical papers are examined concurrently over four days, usually in June, in three centres: London (UK), Sydney (Australia) and Napa (USA).
The Research Paper
The Research Paper is an individual project on a topic chosen by the candidate, resulting in a piece of work of between 6,000 and 10,000 words.
Only after successfully passing all three elements of the Exam is someone eligible for membership of the Institute. It is membership of the Institute and abiding by its Code of Conduct that confers the right to the qualification Master of Wine and use of the title, or its abbreviated form (MW) after their name.
For more detail on each of the three parts of the Examination, please see the links to the left.