Master of wine

Each year fewer than 100 over-achieving oenophiles strive for wine world’s ultimate designation: Master of Wine.

Finale involves four-day test administered by London-based, Tory-titled “Institute of Masters of Wine.”

Test is famously, flamboyantly difficult. Only 10 percent pass. There are fewer than 300 Masters of Wine in the whole wide world, which is sort of the point.

Concocted in the 1950s, Masters of Wine include such names as Michael Broadbent, dupe of the Thomas Jefferson wine bottles scam at Christie’s, and Jancis Robinson, author of the best book on wine: The Oxford Companion to Wine.

The Master of Wine website boasts its exam is “the hardest test of knowledge and ability in the world of wine.” Well, okay. It is not hard to make a test difficult. Ask any teacher who ever taught to a TAKS test.

If you desire the designation, first apply and pay for two years of coursework. Tests each year eliminate significant numbers. Blind tastings, essay questions, viticulture knowledge, obscure facts about wine business and wine trivia abound.

Few people pass first try. Failures get to pay up and try again.

If you eventually pay and pass, you submit a 10,000-word dissertation, which goes through same scrutiny.

If you enter hallowed halls of Master of Wine, bravo for you. Same time, wine is not neonatal neurosurgery. You can do this without British predilection for prestige designations.

Who would you turn to for wine knowledge: France or England?

French term for wine lover: amateur de vin.

Works for me.


• Bodegas Juan Gil Monastrell Wrongo Dongo 2009. Grape aka mourvèdre; plum, blueberry, sharp cherry; spice; soft-simple-nice; high alcohol. $9

• Don Miguel Gascón Malbec 2010. Black fruit, cherry, plum, maybe mocha; agreeable tannin; elegant, balanced focus, rich; good value for price. $15

• Wild Horse Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles 2007. Cherry, vanilla nose; blackberry, cherry; soft juicy mouth; soft tannin; more like merlot than cab. $21