by Ron Washam

Announcing Master of Wine Lite

The Institute of Masters of Wine is pleased to announce its new program, Masters of Wine Lite©. Tired of being the only person in your wine tasting group without initials after your name? That business card of yours looking a bit like you’re about as qualified for a wine job as a Komodo dragon, but with worse breath? Want to have members of the opposite sex swooning over you? Oh, just kidding, MWs don’t really have an opposite sex. But if you’ve always wanted a prestigious wine degree without all the needless study, the expense of presitigious wines, and cumbersome trivial knowledge, then Masters of Wine Lite© is for you!

There are currently only 341 living Masters of Wine, plus Clive Coates. If you’re reading this, I’m certain you can name every one. Each is a living treasure, like peat moss. Their contributions to wine include books. Passing the exam to become a Master of Wine is among the most difficult of human accomplishments, alongside walking on the moon, and farting and whistling simultaneously. More people have conquered Everest than have passed the MW exam, but none have ever been colder. Simply, it’s not easy to become a Master of Wine. The program is based on a solera system. Every year a few new fresh faces are admitted in order to replace the older, nearly empty, more oxidized ones.

Masters of Wine Lite© is about to change all that! With a little bit of dedication, an adequate knowledge of wine, and a healthy down payment, in no time you’ll be an mw! (Sorry, you won’t be able to capitalize your master of wine initials — that’s for real MWs! Don’t fuck with us.) There are still three parts to the Master of Wine Lite© exam, but they’re a bit simpler to understand and pass than those of the MW exam. Don’t kid yourself, you have about as much chance of passing the Master of Wine exam as Donald Trump has of joining Mensa. Here’s the next best thing! Trump can qualify for a driver’s license, and you can get an mw.

The first part of your exam to become a Master of Wine Lite© is called Theory. You’ll have all the time you need to answer five different questions that relate to viticulture, vinification, the business of wine, drunk stories, and potpourri. It’s not hard. Really. You can do this. Here are some examples of the kinds of questions you’ll be asked on the Theory exam:


What is the name of the bushes that grow at the end of the ROWS that have flowers that smell really good?


What tree is used for oak barrels?

Business of wine

If there were only ten bottles in a case of wine, how would that affect case production? Would there be more or fewer? Would you save money on cardboard, or just put dessert wines you couldn’t sell in the other two holes? Why is a case twelve bottles? Is it because Jesus had twelve Apostles, or because there are twelve months in a year, or because XII looks like a little tiny wine rack turned on its side?

Drunk Stories 

Talk about the drunkest you’ve ever been, like the time you used your Coravin to tattoo “Contains Sulfites” on Nicolas Joly’s ass.


Name all 342 MWs in order of pretension, starting and ending with the most.

Hint: Those aren’t just examples, those are the actual exam questions! See, this is going to a breeze. You’re practically an mw already.

The second part of the Master of Wine Lite© exam is the Practical. You are asked to identify and describe six wines under blind conditions, and answer some basic questions. This sounds harder than it really is—the hallmark of wine degree exams. An example:

Question 1

One of these six wines is sparkling wine. Answer these questions. Which one is it? Do the bubbles tickle your cute little button nose? Would you drink it out of a flute or a bassoon?

Question 2

Wines two through five are the exact same wine. Answer these questions. How come you didn’t know that when you first tasted them? Are you anosmic, or simply a poseur? If you switch the glasses around, would that have helped? Did you even wonder why there were only three bottles on the nearby table? Do you feel stupid, or just smug? Smug is important to an mw.

Question 3

Wine six is corked. Sure, now you say something, after we just told you it was corked. Answer these questions. When do you blame the wet dog—your own sulfur, or TCA? You smelt it, did you dealt it? What causes a wine to be corked? Is it a fault, or more of a quirk, like shoplifting?

If an mw candidate passes these first two portions of the exam, he proceeds to the third part of the exam, the Evening Gown Competition. All mw candidates must compete in the evening gown competition, which is judged by MWs who were previous winners, including Christy Canterbury MW, Amy Christine MW and Doug Frost MW, MS, MA (Miss America). After the competition, the evening gowns are donated to Doctors Without Garters.

Doesn’t that sound fun and easy? The first crop of mws have already graduated! Soon you can have letters after your name! Just read these unsolicited recommendations from our newly minted Masters of Wine Lite©:

“Now that I’m an mw, I don’t have to take shit from anybody when it comes to wine. I just flash my business card and case closed—I’m right! It’s almost like being a real MW, and just like being an MS!” — Terry Theise mw

“When I finally received my mw after an exhausting couple of hours, I was ecstatic. What’s cool is that I just tell people I’m an ‘mw’ and they think I’m an MW! It’s magic. And there’s nothing like an MW showing up to empty any crowded room!” — David Schildknecht mw

Won’t you try to become a Master of Wine Lite© today? You can pay more for a wine credential, but for much stupider letters.

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