My experience of studying for the MW
Learn from Christine Marsiglio MW
Jim sat down with Christine to talk about her experiences and to get some tips for current MW Students
Can you tell us a little bit about why you wanted to apply for the MW?
Once I found out about the programme, what seems like ages ago, I always had a drive to become an MW. However, what sealed the deal for me was talking to and learning from other MWs during my WSET diploma. Their knowledge, but also their passion for the subject really inspired me. This, along with some encouragement from other MWs pushed me to apply.
How long was it between thinking about applying and attending your first course day?
Quite a long time. I thought about the MW programme before I started Level 3 wines at WSET School London. However, I didn’t really understand the structure of the programme or how difficult it could be until I spoke to people in the programme and to those of had recently become MWs.
What tips would you give your younger self as you embarked on the MW course?
I would encourage myself to talk to as many people in the MW programme, or to those who have been in it, and to MWs to get an idea of how they went about preparing themselves for the upcoming challenges. Also, to figure out what the main challenges were. I would say, enjoy the free time you have more, as once you start the programme you really do dedicate most of your free time to learning.
I would also say to myself that it would be a good idea to try some MW style tastings to get an idea of how that would be very different to what I had learned at diploma level.
During the course which were the areas that you wished you'd had some more help with?
I didn’t struggle too much with Theory, partially because of my academic background. However, I wish, from the start of the programme, that I had had a clear path on what was expected of me for the tasting, as I sat the exam twice in order to pass. There are different approaches to the tasting exam, however there are right ways and wrong ways, and I wish I could have differentiated that more clearly as early as possible, as perhaps, I could have saved myself a year.
Having seen plenty of people, pass, fail and drop-out - what character traits do you think successful MW's have?
A strong network around them of friends and/or family is key. Those closest to you really need to understand how much of a commitment the MW programme is, and how it will take up the vast majority, for parts of the year, of your free time.
I think people who are successful in the programme just need to want it so badly that they are willing to sacrifice other things in their life, mainly time, in order to complete the programme.
Finally, I would say a common thread that people who pass have is that they are stubborn. They are stubborn because despite the adverse statistics for passing, they just don’t give up, and keep pressing on.
Thinking about the tasting section, because that is what our Masterclasses focus on, what are you 5 top-tips for first year students?
Find a note taking format that works well for you as soon as you can, which will help you be more efficient in your time management of tastings.
Don’t just do blind tastings for the sake of tasting. You really should focus on how to write succinct but high-quality notes that are making a strong argument for the question you’re being asked. This means that a mixture of tasting blind, tasting open, and doing dry notes is important.
Form a study group soon, this will help save money, and you can give each other feedback.
Mark each other’s papers – this will show where people’s arguments are not strong enough and will help you understand where your weaknesses are too.
Stay positive! You can do this! The MW is not an insurmountable task, it just requires lots of hard work and determination.