The "Institute of Masters of Wine" (IMW) was founded in 1955 in London (Great Britain) by a group of wine merchants in cooperation with the Vintners Company. Its forerunner is the Wine Trade Club, founded in 1908 by the famous wine merchant and author André Simon (1877-1970). However, the first examination for the prestigious title of "Master of Wine" had already taken place in 1953, when six out of 21 candidates were chosen. The aim in the founding year was to create a special training a demanding qualification in the British wine trade and thus help it to achieve better quality and reputation. Initially, only candidates who could demonstrate many years of practice in a corresponding position in a relevant company or institution could take the examinations.
In 1983, these strict regulations were relaxed and wine authors, among others, were admitted. Non-British candidates were then only accepted from 1987 onwards. Finally, it was decided that preparatory seminars could also be held outside the UK. This is possible in the USA and Australia and since 2004 also at the Austrian Wine Academy. In 1992, the main objectives of the Institute were reformulated (Mission Statement), they are now "promotion of excellent knowledge about wine", "education at the highest level" and "extreme good behaviour in the wine industry". The course of study is largely self-study and takes three years. After training in theory and practice, only a few candidates pass the extremely difficult and demanding final examinations (1 of 4, 5 to 6 annually).
The exam is divided into three sections. The first consists of a theoretical examination, during four days, in which students are asked questions about ageing, bottling, transport, quality control, marketing, commercial aspects and general wine knowledge from all over the world and have to answer in writing in the form of three essays. The second section consists of a practical examination, in which twelve concealed wines from all over the world must be blind tasted, described, assessed and identified over three days. In addition, questions about the wines, for example regarding quality and production methods, must be answered. Only if the first two sections have been successfully completed, a current topic from the world of wine must be prepared within one year on the basis of own research in the form of a dissertation of 10,000 words (about 30 A4 pages). This research work must bring new knowledge in connection with viticulture.
By the end of 2018, there were 380 members (131 of whom were women) from 30 countries. They are allowed to use the abbreviation "MW" after their name. In Austria there are three, these are Dr. Josef Schuller, GF of the Austrian Wine Academy, who was elected the first non-British chairman in 2008, Roman Horvath, managing director of Domäne Wachau, and Andreas Wickhoff, GF of Premium Estates of Austria. In Germany there are eight, including Markus del Monego (sommelier world champion), Frank Roeder (founder and GF VIF-Weinhandel) and Janek Schumann (wine trade, restaurant). In Switzerland there is only one MW with the wine dealer Philipp Schwandner. Every four years an international symposium with a main topic is organised. Previous venues were Oxford, Bristol, Cambridge, Perth (Australia), ViennaThe exams will be held in Napa Valley (California), Bordeaux (France) and Florence (Italy) in 2014. WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) offers another renowned wine education.
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