The Institute of Masters of Wine is one of the most prestigious wine institutions in the world and it has been presented by one of the women who is most knowledgeable about the same, Siobhan Turner, its Executive Director
Siobhan Turner has briefly reviewed the history of the 'Institute of Masters of Wine' (IMW), describing its philosophy, principles and objectives, as the institute is without a doubt one of the most highly respected agencies in the wine world. This is fundamentally due to the scrupulous professional workmanship of its members and the rigor and seriousness of its study plans, matter that the director of this institution has highlighted at FENAVIN 2007, likewise confessing her desire that one of the five Spanish candidates will soon obtain the title.
All the members of this international, non-profit, professional association, which is financed with its membership fees and with sponsorship received from diverse companies, must comply with two requirements: members must pass the Master of Wine examination and formally abide with the Institute's Code of conduct before enjoying the right to use the title of 'Master of Wine' (MW).
On a global level this title is considered to be the most important and prestigious in the wine industry, while in turn it is also the most demanding and the most difficult to obtain. "Obtaining the title implies a very important effort in time and intensity. It is a symbol of discipline, perseverance and tenacity", insisted Turner, who also highlighted that candidates to this title must enjoy excellent prior training.
The academic program, which the IMW President has particularly emphasized, has a duration of two years, during which the candidate, tutored by a 'Master of Wine' is in good measure responsible for self-training, duly following the program's structure of contents, both on a theoretical and practical level. "At the IMW there are both mentors and tutors, yet the effort must part from the candidate" Turner affirmed.
All candidates must pass four written tests and three practical examinations involving blind tasting sessions, in which they must describe, evaluate and identify up to a dozen different wines from all over the world.
From a theoretical point of view, 'Master of Wine' candidates must enjoy extensive knowledge of all the wine regions in the world, apart from being knowledgeable in viticulture, enology, marketing, legislation, quality control, commercial aspects and contemporary problems suffered by the wine industry.
After passing the theoretical and practical exams, the candidate is to present and sustain an investigation paper on a theme of the student's choice related with the wine industry.
The difficulty and exigency of the tests is made more than evident with the following figures: currently there are only 257 'Masters of Wine' in the world (of 19 different nationalities), 209 candidates from 25 different countries and in the last decade only 80 students have actually passed the examinations and become 'Masters of Wine'. The youngest 'Master of Wine's is 28 years old, while the oldest is 89, and the average age at which exams are actually passed stands at 34 years. Approximately 30% of the 'Masters' are from outside the United Kingdom, in particular from the United States, Australia and France. As pointed out by Turner, to date there are no Spaniards in the group, although currently we have five Spanish candidates to the title.
Siobhan Turner, who is of Canadian origin, has held posts of a financial profile in prominent London 'city' companies, and in the year 2004 she took over IMW's Executive Management.