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Delhi Wine Club
Record Harvest for Masters of Wine in 2015

Posted: Wednesday, 09 September 2015 14:42


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Record Harvest for Masters of Wine in 2015

Sep 09: The 2015 vintage is expected to be excellent in many countries for yield and quality but according to the MW results announced by the Institute of Masters of Wine in London on Monday, a record crop of 24 MWs join the coveted list too this year including the 5 elected earlier in March this year, taking the total number to 340, with Singapore getting its first MW and women (11) continuing the trend of surpassing men (8) in the list of 19 announced

India gets closer to its first Indian Master with our only hope for the moment, Sonal Holland passing the Practicals on Monday. She has now reached the final Stage 3 of the exam, involving a research paper of 6000-10,000 words-she had already passed the theory paper last year. She says she was woken up by a call from London informing her of the good news. ‘I cannot tell you-it’s like a boulder off of my shoulder,’ she says. ‘For me Practicals are the toughest nut to crack. You have 3 days of blind tastings of 36 wines. If you clear 2 and fail in one, you have to start all over again,’ she adds.

Never in the history of the Institute of Masters of Wine have so many candidates passed at one time. In fact, last year there were only 6!  But also, 26% more were admitted to try for the coveted title. During the last decade or so, women have done as well as men with about 50% qualifying being women. But this year they have clearly surpassed the men.

To reach the summit which might be tougher than Mount Everest, there are three stages earlier known as Years. Stage 1 has replaced the term First year for Theory and Stage 2 is for Practicals. Sonal Holland who is currently the All India Manager for Beverages for ITC Hotels, has thus reached Stage 3 which was earlier known as the ‘Final Year’. This refers to time spent on preparing the Research Paper (earlier classified as Dissertation) and is usually within the reach of individuals clearing Stage 1 and Stage 2-the Theory and Practicals. The Research Paper is an in-depth study on a wine-related topic from any area of the sciences, arts, humanities, social sciences. Sonal has yet to decide on the subject but it will be related to the Indian wine industry, she feels.

According to a release by the Institute of Masters of Wine, the new MWs hail from 10 countries, including Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Greece, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Singapore has its first MW in Mr. Ying Tan. Started in 1953, it was open to only the British earlier but the rules were relaxed in the earlier 1990s to make it global.

The standard of Research Papers has been getting higher and higher too. John Hoskins MW, Chief Examiner of the Institute of the Masters of Wine, explains on their website, “Not only do we have a record number of new MWs, but we can report that the general standard of the Research Papers was considerably higher than equivalent papers submitted in previous years. This is testament not just to the hard work of the candidates involved, but also to the success of the overhaul of the exam process. We now have a strong pool of MWs with the experience to give students the guidance they need to tackle this last part of the exam, which for many had in the past proved to be the most frustrating.”

Congratulations to Sonal Holland from delWine and the Indian Wine Academy which are dedicated and encourage the wine education in India at several fronts.

It will be particularly a proud moment for me when she clears the Stage 3 and earns the MW title. When she was enrolled as a student and I congratulated her, she shot back a quick reply,’ you have forgotten! You are the one who encouraged me to go the whole hog and try for the MW title!’ I had met her first many years ago at a wine tasting I conducted for an Italian group called ‘Opera’ at the Taj Mahal, Mumbai. At her request, I had met her for coffee afterwards. She had done WSET 1 and was keen to learn about wines. I had encouraged her to go for MW if she had the spare time and money-both of which she apparently had.’

Sonal was selected as one of the Top Ten Women in wines in India this year for the second time

Watch out for delWine to know when she finally reaches the Summit.

For an interesting earlier Article in delWine by John Salvi, Master of Wine please visit

Demystifying the Institute of Masters of Wine

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