Master of Wine

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Master of Wine (MW) is a qualification (not an academic degree) issued by The Institute of Masters of Wine in the United Kingdom. The MW qualification is generally regarded in the wine industry as one of the highest standards of professional knowledge.[1]

The Institute was founded in 1955, but the MW examinations were first arranged in 1953 by the Worshipful Company of Vintners and the Wine and Spirits Association.[2]


The Institute of Masters of Wine is a non-profit organization funded by its members and by corporate sponsorship from within the wine industry. Its stated objectives are:

  • To promote the knowledge, understanding and appreciation of wine;
  • To uphold the highest standards within the wine industry;
  • To enhance personal and professional goals in pursuing wine-related activities.


Before being allowed to enroll for the three-year program of self-study and attendance of educational seminars presented by the Institute, potential candidates must convince the Institute that they have the necessary aptitude by submitting an essay and tasting notes. This generally includes holding the diploma level qualification of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, which is the highest level awarded by that organisation. In addition, they must be interviewed by, and obtain the mentoring of, an existing Master of Wine.

Candidates must sit for both the theory (four papers) and practical (three blind tastings) parts of the examination in the same year. If they achieve success in only one part, however, they may attempt the remaining part in the subsequent two years. If successful at the examination stage, candidates must then write and submit a dissertation within six months of approval of a synopsis by the Institute's Education and Examination Board.[3][4]

The process is challenging and rigorous. From 1993 to 2000, of the 266 candidates who undertook the programme a total of 85 were successful in passing all parts of the examination and becoming Masters of Wine.


Until 1983, the examination was limited to United Kingdom wine importers, merchants and retailers.[5] The first non-UK Master of Wine was awarded in 1988. In 2005, there were 278 members of 18 different nationalities, living in 19 countries throughout the world. Most of the 74 members living outside the UK became members since about 1990. As of May 2015, there are 322 MWs in the world. [6] Today, members hold a range of occupations including winemakers, viticulturists, winemaking consultants, wine writers and journalists, wine educators, and wine service, restaurant and hotel management. In addition, many are involved in the purchasing, importing, distribution, sales and marketing of wine. Typically, sommeliers choose to become Master Sommelier, but a handful of individuals have achieved both qualifications.[7]

Notable Masters of Wine[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Robinson, Jancis, ed. (2006). "Masters of Wine". The Oxford Companion to Wine (Third ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 430. ISBN 0-19-860990-6. 
  2. ^ The Institute of Masters of Wine: About The IMW, accessed on February 4, 2008
  3. ^ The Institute of Masters of Wine: The MW Examination, accessed on November 1, 2010
  4. ^ Singapore Wine Vault website. Blog portion. Retrieved at ://
  5. ^ Perkins, Sam, The New York Times (April 7, 2004). Noses Seek Wine Geekdom's Biggest Prize
  6. ^
  7. ^ Fletcher, Janet, The San Francisco Chronicle (September 22, 2006). The Ultimate Test
  8. ^ The Institute of Masters of Wine: Meet the MWs, accessed on June 1, 2015
  9. ^ The Institute of Masters of Wine: Meet the MWs, accessed on May 28, 2014

External links[edit]