“The second law of thermodynamics states that the total entropy of an isolated system always increases in time. (or remains constant in ideal cases)”
You’ve never heard of entropy? Ok, let me explain it simply: Entropy is a measure of the disorder of a system. And according to this law, the disorder of an isolated system always increases. Well, let’s say, you dropped a cup and broke it into pieces. Have you ever seen those pieces coming back together? Or have you ever managed to unscramble an egg? I guess not. Well, that’s because entropy never decreases.
So, I was in an isolated system: in a classroom in London thinking about entropy. It was my first Master of Wine seminar as a student. Until then, I had developed knowledge about wine. However, during the first hour in class, I felt like everything I knew was mixing up irreversibly and increasing the entropy in my brain.
After an hour, Michelle Cherutti-Kowal MW wrote a sentence on the blackboard: “Taste like a Detective, Prove like a Lawyer”. This sentence broke the isolation of my system and I suddenly stopped freaking out. I realized that until this seminar, we have always tasted wines like a detective. However, we actually never had to prove anything like a lawyer.
We spent two days trying to understand how to switch our mindset from being a Wset Diploma Graduate to a Master of Wine Student. So here is what 88 poor new MW students have to get used to:
Taste like a Detective, Prove like a Lawyer: Observations are not enough in tasting anymore. We have to describe the wine as we always did like in previous stages, meaning writing down its sweetness, acidity, tannin, alcohol, body, flavor profile, length etc… The real question comes then. Let’s say: “the following three wines have the same origin of region and they are made out of different grape varieties.” Well, then it is time to read our own descriptions and try to understand what they are telling us. Each aspect of the wine is a clue. So we have to make up our mind, give a decision, answer the question and then start convincing the examiner (and ourselves) by giving as many proofs as we can, ending up with a full page.
Critical Thinking: The MW Exam requires 5 different papers, including topics from viticulture, winemaking, handling of wine, business of wine, and contemporary issues. A very strong theoretical knowledge is a must, but it is not sufficient to accumulate facts anymore. The whole learning process requires a curious and skeptical approach. It is crucial to show evidence involved to support a particular argument or conclusion.
Collect Examples: On our second day, Anne McHale MW spent a day with us, sharing her experience of becoming an MW. She mentioned the importance of real life examples to support our essays. However, it is not enough to give an example such as: X winemaking process is very common in Tuscany, Italy. We are expected to write about wineries and leading winemaker’s ideas and show controversial examples. This clearly means that we need to read and travel systematically in the wine regions, and ask questions continuously. We will have to note down as many details as we can and sort them out to use as an example in our essays. McHale also pointed out that she preferred to use trade tastings more of an opportunity to learn about winemaking. It was such a relief to hear this because I’ve been attending many trade tastings and I never felt like it actually developed my tasting skills because there is always a huge crowd. One never has the opportunity to think healthy and write down proper notes in these tastings. So now I know how to benefit from them better.
Learn How to Write an Essay: This is the part where I find myself lucky, as I had to write many structured essays during my education. However, I can understand how challenging this can be, even if one has an extraordinary knowledge in a specific topic. Anne McHale gave us a hint by saying: “Tell them what you are gonna tell them, Tell them, Then tell them what you told them”. This is a very common approach and yet very beneficial! It’ll be crucial to prepare ourselves in structuring our thoughts and writing an essay regardless of the topic because things might not go very smooth when we are under time pressure.
Among all the stress during those two days, I had the joy of meeting amazing people from many different countries of the world! I understood the amount of work ahead of me and it made me feel even more excited. Now it’s time to plan, study and learn. 7.5 months to go until our first exam. I’ll keep on sharing my experience on the way. So stay tuned!:)