Ready for the MW…Again.


Here it is.  The evening prior to the start of the Master of Wine Residential Seminar for MW students and I find myself thinking about the week that I’m getting ready for.  This also brings into stark realization that the MW exam itself is only 4 months and 1 week away (but who’s counting).  I find myself in the same mentality that I would be in during the middle of a very long run.  The excitement of starting the run has mostly faded and given way to a steely determination, mind set, jaw clinched.  You know the deal.  It’s the same feeling of staring at the same small spot on a wall and being entranced by your own focus on that one spot.  

For those of you who don’t know what the Master of Wine exam is, it is a 4-day long exam held once a year covering both tasting and theory of wine.  I’ve taken it once and failed it once.  I’m taking it again this year for the second time expecting different results.  I think that is the definition of insanity however I’m hoping I’ve changed enough variables this year to have a better result for the effort.  

The true frustration for me comes from the exam itself.  The passing grade is a B.  No less is acceptable.  In the four theory papers last year I netted three C+ grades and one B.  In the time since the grades came out I’ve been pulling my hair out to find the secret to going from a C+ to a B.  Clearly I can do it as I did get one B.  It is achievable.  There are around 288 MWs in the world so it can be done.  

This is the first time in my blog I have acknowledged my failure so I feel that in itself is a step towards passing.  So, for the next few days I’ll be holed up in a conference center in a hotel with close to 100 of my fellow students all a different points in their journey.  This will be my third one.  At the first I was wide eyed and overjoyed to even be admitted, nervous about my lack of experience with the program, and overwhelmed by the second year students who all seemed to have friends and know exactly how to answer questions and what was expected.   My second year, I was able to go in with the confidence that having the first year under my belt.  I had fellow classmates that had done the year in the trenches with me.  We had shared tastings, epiphanies, information, and heartbreaks along the way.  We looked around and noticed the group we started with last year was smaller than it was the year prior.  I have no doubt that this year it will be even more so.  We’ll celebrate those that were able to pass over at least part or the entire hurdle of the exam and we’ll refocus our efforts to join them on the other side next year.  

I rarely write blogs about the MW simply because it doesn’t change that much.  I write essays.  I attend practice tasting exams.  It is my life.  I continue to put everything else that matters off in its pursuit.  It is the middle of a marathon and you only have the though of the finish line in your head.  Only in the Second year of the MW there is no mile marker until you pass at least part of the exam.  It is a long straight road with only the horizon in sight.  So I keep running, praying that in the next mile I’ll have some validation as to where I am in the run.  It’s my second, Second year.  I’m trying to be confident that it will be my last.

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