I find myself once again looking at MW assignment results. This is a part of the program that did not exist when I started back in the 2008-2009 academic year. Back then you had to pay a single MW to grade a set number of theory papers and you received somewhat cryptic guidance back. I remember vividly an early theory essay where I received a “D” and there was the comment “It is unclear if the author is a native English speaker.” Having graduated from Cornell only a few years before, that one stung quite a bit. Now the process is far more formalized and is included in the yearly tuition. It covers all aspects of the exam from Theory to Practical and also begins the process of the Research Paper. This year I have submitted one of all three parts and received my feed back on all of them. Funny enough I seem to have reverted to the dreaded “C” grade on my theory essays. For those who have followed this blog for a while you’ll know that “C” is the grade I absolutely despise. A “B” is a passing grade so a “C” is a thanks for sending something and you didn’t make a total fool of yourself grade but not good enough to pass. My practical paper, which is the part of the exam that I got hung up on after I passed theory and the entire reason I’m doing all of this over again, was a passing paper. The Research Paper feed back was positive overall with a few minor comments to some additions I could make. Which brings me back to the theory section.
When I passed theory back in 2012, I was all over it. I had it down to a science. It would seem now that I have forgotten what it was that got me over the line based on the single essay that I’ve had graded. It makes sense though if one thinks that holistically, I studied for the practical far longer than I did the theory so one could assume that it would be harder to get back in the saddle on that one than the practical portion of the exam. However, the theory is the one section I did actually pass so I have to believe that somewhere in my brain is the key to unlocking the theory mystery again. In January, I go back to San Francisco, to attend the North American course days once again. I hope by the time I get there I will have figured out once again how to write a stellar theory essay and can continue my good trend with the practical exam.
If nothing else, this program is humbling. One can be an expert in one small facet of the industry but a baby in others and the MW is designed to be the great equalizer in those aspects. It is the sand storm that wears down the fluff knowledge to the hard core foundation then rebuilds that knowledge slowly, brick by brick, until your understanding is unshakeable and your entire way of thinking has been altered to always ask “Why?” “How?” and “What is that used for?”, never to assume you know the answer. My aim this year, as it has been all the other years I have prepped for the exam, is to pass. This year, however, I am relaxed about it because I’ve already failed it more times than most people attempt it so there is really nothing left to worry about that I haven’t already experienced. As always, I’ll keep my readers posted as I go through the year culminating with my results notice next September. Wish me luck!
Tomorrow through Friday I will be sitting the Master of Wine exam for the last time. I’m so excited for the exam in the morning but also I will miss the intense preparation a bit. Starting Saturday I will begin a life with no intensive structured studies. That is a life which I have experienced only for short periods. I suppose I ended up being a perpetual student anyway even though that is what I swore off once I graduated college in 2006. However in June of 2007 I signed up for my first WSET course and have been slowly acquiring certifications ever since with the ultimate goal of achieving the MW. I suppose it really is the process of learning I enjoy as well as the pursuit of a goal.
Thinking to tomorrow, I wonder what the examiners have set up for us? Classics? The hot new world area taking London by storm? Avant garde new production techniques? Small production obscure Italian varieties? All are possible but many are not probable. Probability points to classics. Standards which have been set over time. Chardonnay, Cabernet, and others however there are always surprises and that is what makes this fun. Did I just say that this is fun? Yes it is! This year I have found the fun in the practical exam. That is how I know I’m going to pass this year. If is because I know that whatever they set out for me tomorrow and Thursday and Friday, I am prepared to answer it. It’s a good feeling.
Now I’m going to go grab some pizza with a friend, maybe a beer, relax, do some last minute vintage studying before bed and wake up ready for the experience. Research Paper, here I come!
I had a teacher in 10th grade English who said that ALL the time. “Take your F and move on with your life.” At some point in the year she found an assignment to give us all an F on. Was she just mean and spiteful? Some of us thought so at the time but what she was doing was trying to teach us a much more valuable life lesson than how to properly diagram a sentence. She wanted us to learn to deal with failure. To face it, accept it, and come out on the other side stronger and willing to work harder to achieve what we wanted. Today that quote is running through my mind a lot. I received my MW exam results this morning. I have failed the Practical exam once again with the same grades I had last year; C+, C+, and B respectively. The B was on Paper 1 last year but that is hardly the point. The point is I have now taken the exam 4 times and received 4 result letters. The first fail was a complete surprise to me. I thought for sure I had passed at least the theory portion. The second fail was devastating because I had thrown everything in my entire being at that theory exam and was at a complete loss as to what to do next. The third fail was bittersweet because it also came with a pass on Theory but a fail on Practical. It however did renew my chances to continue trying to pass the exam. Now, on my 4th fail, I’m taking it philosophically. It is just another set back in life which is, everyday, just a series of wins and setbacks. I’ve had far more of the first than the second in my life so I’m thinking this is not so bad. I have one more shot at the Practical and if my running theme holds true, I’ll pass it next year on my last try. Now I just have to find money to pay for the tuition again! If you would like to donate to my wine education fund don’t hesitate to let me know.
Song of the day: Strip Me by Natasha Bedingfield