Masters of Wine to Begin Conferring Honorary Titles

I must confess, I fantasize about having a life with enough free time (and cash flow) to allow me to study for and complete the Master of Wine certification through the Institute for the Masters of Wine. Widely regarded as the most in-depth and difficult certification available in the field of wine, the coveted initials “MW” that come with the Master of Wine title are a key to instant credibility and respect when it comes to wine.

But it turns out that some people may soon not have to go through the grueling series of exams in order to earn their MW title. I happened to be talking with the Chairman of the Institute, Josef Schuller for a totally unrelated reason yesterday, when he mentioned that the Institute would soon be announcing a set of new, honorary MWs.

When I expressed some interest in the move, he agreed to let me publicize it in advance of the press release the Institute is planning to send out next week.

“We decided that we needed some more visibility in the industry, and that there are a select number of retailers, importers, journalists, and even bloggers whose credentials when it came to wine knowledge are clearly at the MW level,” Schuller told me. “The idea is to recognize these people for their demonstrated expertise, while expanding the base of MWs and making a bit of a hubub about it.”

Wait a minute. Did he say bloggers?!?

Schuller wouldn’t give me any further information, and told me I’d have to wait for the press release on that one like everyone else.

Leaving aside that tantalizing tidbit for a moment, the idea of an Honorary MW seems to make some sense. Heck if Harvard can give away PhDs to folks that it wants associated with the university, why can’t the Institute for the Masters of Wine?

“We’re hoping it will be big news,” says Schuller.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing about this move is that the Institute is taking nominations for these honorary titles. I reached Jancis Robinson for comment on this aspect of the initiative, who offered that “we realize that there may be some really cracking individuals in the industry we don’t know about, and rather than restrict ourselves to known entities, we will try relying on the community as a whole.”

So have at it! Nominations for future honorees (the first batch to be announced next week have been decided) can be made at nominate@mastersofwine.com.

So let the nominations and handicapping begin. Who are the folks that will be sporting the honorary MW title next week?