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FAQs

What is the Institute of Masters of Wine? What does it do?

The IMW is a global membership organisation whose members are the Masters of Wine. By passing the MW exam you become a member of the IMW, gain the title Master of Wine and can use the initials MW after your name. The mission of the IMW is to promote excellence, interaction and learning across all sectors of the global wine community. See About Us

What is a Master of Wine?

A Master of Wine (MW) is someone who has demonstrated, by way of rigorous exam, a thorough understanding of all aspects of wine and an ability to communicate clearly. Find an MW

How many Masters of Wine are there? In how many countries?

There are currently 394 Masters of Wine, living in 30 different countries (467 people have passed the MW exam since 1953).

What is the difference between a Master of Wine (MW) and a Master Sommelier (MS)

The MW and MS credentials have attained unrivalled status in their fields. They are two distinct credentials and are not associated. The MW examination, administered by the IMW, authenticates the highest standard in all aspects of the production, trade, and marketing of wine, as well as related health, social and environmental issues. The Court of Master Sommeliers is the premier international examining body for standards of knowledge and service in the hospitality and beverage industry. 

How do I become an MW?

To become an MW you need to be accepted onto the programme, pass the stage one assessment and the MW exam (theory and practical components and the research paper) and sign the IMW’s code of conduct.

What are the benefits of being a Master of Wine?

Perhaps the most important benefit is membership of the IMW itself: being part of the global community of Masters of Wine, each of whom has demonstrated the highest knowledge and ability in the art, science and business of wine. Masters of Wine are equipped with a unique range of practical and theoretical knowledge which enables them to work across all disciplines within the wine industry, from winemakers, oenologists and viticulturists through to shippers, retailers and writers. Watch Being a Master of Wine

How many Masters of Wine are women?

The study programme and exam have always been open to both women and men. Sarah Morphew Stephen MW became the first female Master of Wine in 1970. Today a third of the world’s MWs are female (137). 1979 was the first year that equal numbers of women and men passed. In 2001, for the first time, there were more women than men among the new MWs.

How can I contact a Master of Wine?

Some MWs display their contact details on their profile. As per the IMW’s privacy policy, MW contact details cannot be shared without their prior consent.

How many Masters of Wine are based outside the UK?

There are 190 MWs living and working outside the UK. The 204 UK-based MWs include some who are originally from Africa, North and South America, Australasia, Asia, and elsewhere in Europe.

Where is the IMW based? Why is it in England?

The IMW’s HQ is in London, although it runs its study programme and events worldwide. London has historically been one of the world’s principal wine trading centres and was, therefore, a natural place for the IMW to start up and flourish. Today, its membership and activities are truly international. Learn more

When and how did the IMW start?

In 1953 the Vintners’ Company and the Wine and Spirit Association recognised that they needed to improve the standard of education in the British wine trade and to formally certify its most talented members. They organised the first Master of Wine exam in 1953. Twenty-one people took the exam; six people passed, becoming the first-ever Masters of Wine. Two years later the Institute of Masters of Wine was formed, by the six MWs who passed the inaugural exam. Our History

How do I check to see if someone is a Master of Wine?

Search for an MW here, or check the In Memoriam page for the members who have passed away. You can also contact the IMW executive team, +44 (0)20 7383 9130 or info@mastersofwine.org if you have further queries.

Who is the youngest Master of Wine?

The youngest Master of Wine was Stephen Bennett MW, who passed the exam in 1994 and became a member at the age of 25. Thomas Parker MW is currently the youngest MW in the world. 

How do you apply for the MW study programme?

Applications for the study programme can be submitted every year from May. They must be supported by a referee, who is either a Master of Wine or a senior member of the wine trade. The application includes an online theory and a practical exam, which can be done remotely. Learn More

What are the prerequisites for the study programme?

Applicants must hold the Wine and Spirit Education Trust Diploma, or another wine qualification of at least the same level – for example, a bachelor or master’s degree in oenology. Applicants are also required to have at least three years of professional experience within the wine industry, at the time of application.

Do you need to know the English language to apply?

The study programme is conducted in English. The IMW will try to provide candidates with a mentor who reads their language, although this may not always be possible. Candidates must write the practical exam in English and the research paper must be submitted in English, but candidates may arrange for translation from their native language prior to submission. The theory exams may be written in any language. The IMW will arrange for translation and will subsidise the cost.

Where can you study to become an MW and how many classes do you need to attend each year?

The MW programme is a self-study course and can be studied from anywhere in the world, but you need to be linked to a study centre. There are residential seminars in Adelaide, Australia; Napa and Woodinville, USA; Bordeaux, France; Deidesheim, Germany; Rust, Austria; and Berkshire, UK. These seminars normally last one week and attendance is compulsory to be eligible to sit the exam. There are also centrally marked assignments and optional course days. The exam is held over four days, usually in June, in three locations: London, UK; Napa, USA; and Adelaide, Australia.

Is the IMW study programme full time?

The study programme is principally self-study and is not full time. The academic year begins in mid-September and finishes in June. Students participate in a one-week residential seminar during the academic year, may also attend course days, and get the support of an MW mentor. They also submit regular written assignments for marking and feedback. The residential seminars are offered on three continents: Europe, Australasia and North America.

What is the structure of the Master of Wine exam? Can you be a part-qualified MW?

There are three parts to the exam. The practical exam comprises three papers of 12 wines each, tasted blind. The theory exam comprises five papers on viticulture, vinification and pre-bottling techniques, the handling of wine, the business of wine, and contemporary issues. The research paper is a 10,000 word report based on original research. To become a Master of Wine, you have to pass everything. There is no such thing as a part-qualified MW.

How long does the MW study programme take to complete?

The study programme takes a minimum of three years to complete, although it may take longer. Students may sit the theory and practical exam after the end of the second year, and then submit their research paper in the following June should they pass both the practical and theory parts of the exam.

How much does the MW study programme cost?

See the annual study programme fees here. Candidates also need to factor in travel costs and wine costs for their own tasting sessions.

How often can someone sit the exam?

A candidate who has participated in the residential seminar in the year of the exam may sit the practical and/or theory parts of the exam a maximum of five times within six years. Both parts must be sat until at least one is passed. However, the candidate must pass at least part of the exam (i.e. practical or theory) within the first three attempts.

How many students are there in the MW study programme? From how many countries?

There are over 350 students from 40 countries on the 2019-2020 programme.

Who are the examiners?

Each paper is examined by a panel of examiners, headed by a panel chair. The members of the panels are MWs and other senior members of the wine trade from around the world. The IMW also has an external academic adviser.

Are IMW tastings open to the public?

Yes! IMW tastings and seminars are almost always open to members of the public, who have a serious interest in wine. See Events