News Jane Hunt

Becoming a Master of Wine in Italy

Becoming a Master of Wine in Italy

Britain has had long historical trading associations with several wine-producing regions of which Bordeaux, Oporto, Jerez and Madeira in particular and as a result developed a tradition of wine drinking in a country which did not make wine.

Master of Wine qualification

Introduced in 1953, the Master of Wine qualification was devised to educate and examine wine trade members to the highest possible standard in all aspects of wine world-wide. The Institute of Masters of Wine has since expanded enormously with examinations now held in Britain, the Usa and Australia. Currently there are Masters of Wine from 23 different countries.

Although the Institute has one British-born Italian member, it has no Italian born nor Italian resident members. There are opportunities for this to change yet a number of obstacles collaborate to make this a difficult process.

The Master of Wine syllabus and examination covers almost every conceivable topic relating to wine across all producing countries and sets very high standards. The enormous amount of study and research involved including the ability to evaluate and recognise wines in a blind tasting environment is appreciable.

At present ideal opportunities in Italy to prepare for such study are limited and weak. There are only two formal study options available of which one is too insular and the other available only irregularly if at all. Difficulty in obtaining a variety of non-Italian wines locally compounds the problem.


A selection of wine courses

The Ais Diploma offers a very useful start to learn about wine-tasting in general terms but as its approach is focussed exclusively on Italian wines with recognition according to anticipated ‘typicity’, it offers only a limited background for the Master of Wine. If the Ais Diploma would consider expanding its parameters of study to include non-Italian wines and perhaps its approach to tasting, this would be an enormous step forward. The Masters of Wine operates with a different approach using a structured analysis with appropriate reasoning in addition to solid background knowledge in order to reach conclusions.

The most valuable resource to prepare for studying for the Master of Wine qualification is operated by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust which offers courses from basic Certificate level up to Diploma level.  Based in Britain and established in 1969, it started to operate in overseas markets from 1990 and is now active in 62 countries with courses available in 17 different languages.  Some of the most active are the Uk, China, Hong Kong, Canada, Australia, France and S. Korea.

Italy has not yet been able to offer sufficient Wset courses but in the last few months there has been progress to establish such programmes in Italy. It is certain that there is a wealth of potential students who, given the opportunity, would sign up to study at this level and gain the necessary background to proceed to Master of Wine.

It will be a huge pleasure to welcome Italy’s first Master of Wine and it is hoped this will not be before too long.

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