Back to the drawing board. The Master of Wine waits for no-one!

So it’s nearly two months since that fateful day when the results of my second year Master of Wine exams arrived. The feeling of terror when I opened the email was incredible. The feeling of despair, when I read two words – fail & fail beside both the theory and tasting was horrendous!! Imagine putting your life on hold for two years, getting up at 5.30am before the children to maximise every second, missing out on seeing old mates because of a strict study timetable and analysing rather than enjoying each and every glass of wine (of which there were many!).

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Today I’m staring down the barrel of a deadline. Our first assignment is due on Friday. And here starts another few months of total immersion, sweat and hopefully not too many tears!! I’ve obviously got holes in my viticultural and wine making knowledge, so I’m focussing on that more than the business of wine (paper 3) and contemporary issues (Paper 4) which are the ones which I passed, but due to the rules of the MW exams have to retake!! The question for today is:

‘Many factors can affect flowering and fruit set. Examine what effect these might have on yield and quality.’

On the tasting side of things, it was something which I didn’t concentrate on last year and hence, my grades were not disappointing, but more encouraging. This year I’m compiling some serious files on each and every wine, which could appear, its characteristics, similarities and differences to other varieties, along with a comprehensive vintage guide for all the classic regions. Instead of filling me with dread, this task ignites the organisational side of me and stokes the fire that drives the ship (that is me!). An obvious bonus is the increase in sampling necessary to hone the palate.

This article from Jancis Robinson MW serves to illustrate just how hard these exams are and should I hope help to ‘defend’ my failure and help explain to friends and family why I have to hide away. Another from Richard Hemming earlier in the year (only available to purple pagers I’m afraid) offers insight into the pain and difficulty felt even at the dissertation stage. He also answers some questions on the course, highlighting the 10% pass rate!

My 'den of study'!

My ‘den of study’!

When I’ve pressed ‘publish’, I will turn off all social media connections, silence my phone, boil the kettle and sit down to tackle the first assignment of the year. Having merely created a study timetable thus far, the anticipation and terror of once again jumping onto that precipice to scale the mountain is certainly palpable. Please wish me luck and if you’re a winemaker doing something out of the ordinary with your must or wine I’D LIKE TO KNOW WHY!!!

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