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In total, 384 people now hold the title across 30 different countries.

Mike Pomranz
Updated February 22, 2019

We all have that friend who “knows about wine” — always stealing the wine list out of your hand so they can ponder it studiously. But unless that friend is one of around 600 people worldwide, they’re not at the top of their wine game — at least certification-wise. Two distinctions — Masters of Wine and Master Sommeliers — tend to be recognized as the top tiers of the wine world… and the former group just added six new members to its ranks.

This week, the Institute of the Masters of Wine announced the names of these new “MWs” — who interestingly enough come from six different countries: Edouard Baijot of France, Nicholas Jackson of the U.S., Brendan Jansen of Australia, Jonas Röjerman of Sweden, Harriet Tindal of Ireland, and Jonas Tofterup of Spain. With these six included, 384 people across 30 different countries now hold the distinction of being a Master of Wine.

Becoming a Master of Wine is a multistep process. Before even entering the MW program, participants typically have some sort of formal wine education as well as a broad global understanding of wine. Then, to complete the program, Master of Wine hopefuls have to pass a practical exam and a theory exam, as well as complete a wine-related research paper.

By comparison, the distinction of a Master Sommelier — which counts 255 global members among its ranks — though prestigious, has its differences. “Masters of wine have passed the most difficult wine industry exams in the world, whereas master sommeliers have passed the most difficult beverage service exams in the world,” Matt Deller, a Master of Wine and chief wine officer at Wine Access, told us back in 2017. “Both are the pinnacle of their respective fields.”

Gerard Basset, who is one of just a handful of people to hold both titles, provided a similar explanation to Decanter back in 2013. “Inevitably, those in the catering industry will benefit most from the MS and if they work on the floor of a restaurant it should be easier for them to prepare for as it is more linked to what they do every day,” he said. “For those in the wine trade and with a more academic mind, the MW is a more logical choice.”

Meanwhile, you just wish your friend would hand you back the damned wine list.

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