About David Forer, MW
The wine world is filled with great wine. There is so much pleasure to be had from wines from so many different regions and so many different price points. But there are some regions that make good wines and some regions that make excellent wines. And even in the best regions, some wineries become the producers of excellent wines and some being the best of the best. Becoming a Master of Wine has given me the ability to differentiate between the good and the excellent, and between the excellent and superlative. It also has given me the access to the producers of the best wines of the world. That is why I’ve decided to highlight some of the most sought after wines of the world!
I live in Barcelona, close to the great wine regions of the world, but still with one foot in my previous home in San Francisco, close to the great wines of California!
What is a Master of Wine?
The Master of Wine qualification signifies the pinnacle of tasting ability and knowledge about the global wine trade. Currently there are just 380 Masters of Wine in the world.
Becoming an MW involves passing three different challenges: four days of closed-book Theory exams, three days of blind Tasting exams, and also a comprehensive Research Paper.
The four day Theory exam consists of 13 essays spanning from viticulture to vinification – all aspects of wine aging, handling and QC – the business of wine – and contemporary issues. The exam does not test memorization skill, rather it tests the ability to understand and communicate about the complex highly segmented world of wine. Example questions are: “What practical options does a viticulturist have at his or her disposal to address long term changes in climate in an established vineyard?”; “What are the commercial advantages and disadvantages of packing/bottling wine in the local market of consumption? Is this trend a good thing for the wine industry?”; “Which is more important in wine: tradition or innovation?”
The Tasting exam spans three days, each one consisting of 12 wines tasted blind. With long form writing, MW candidates are asked to analyze each wine, with typical questions being to argue what the origin is (often down to appellation), what the grape variety is, style and quality, and commercial potential. Of note, the wines focus not just on luxury classic wines but also wines of significant commercial relevance – the exam can have both Grand Cru Burgundy and a $7 mass market Moscato in the same exam!
Once the Theory and Tasting exams are passed (which can take many attempts), there is then a Research Paper phase, which is a year-long endeavor to show ability to perform comprehensive and in-depth analysis on a topic of original research. My Research Paper was titled “An analysis of the impact of declining farm labor immigration on vineyard operations in Sonoma and Napa counties of the last decade”.
But achieving the MW has been more than just passing blind tastings and closed book theory exams and a research paper. Ultimately, the MW has provided me with the palate and knowledge to know great wine from merely good wine, and to know what makes a wine a “cult” wine!