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 enrolling on the MW study programme, prospective students must obtain a Diploma level qualification from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, or another wine qualification of at least a comparable standard. Also, by the time they attain the title 'MW' they will need to have had five years trade experience. Applicants must submit a basic essay, a tasting paper and a brief statement explaining their interest in becoming a Master of Wine.

The study programme is made up of three stages. Stage 1 is the foundation year and gives students the opportunity to meet Masters of Wine and fellow students in both professional and social settings. Stage 1 assessment includes six pieces of work throughout the year, culminating in an exam that takes place in early June. The exam involves one tasting paper and two essays. Stage 2 is a crucial time for students - it can be very intense but immensely rewarding. Students must provide three pieces of work for assessment throughout the Stage 2 year, and must pass both the Theory and Practical parts of the June MW Examination in order to progress to the Research Paper in Stage 3. The Research paper is an individual paper of between 6,000 and 10,000 words in length, on a topic of the student's choice. The whole qualification takes at least three years to complete in full.


Until 1983, the examination was limited to United Kingdom wine importers, merchants and retailers.[3] 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. [4] 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.[5]

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. ^ Perkins, Sam, The New York Times (April 7, 2004). Noses Seek Wine Geekdom's Biggest Prize
  4. ^
  5. ^ Fletcher, Janet, The San Francisco Chronicle (September 22, 2006). The Ultimate Test

External links[edit]