Written by: Jancis Robinson (www.jancisrobinson.com)
Today is the day that a score or two of very hardworking wine students around the globe have been chewing their nails and checking their mail anxiously for it’s the day that the Institute of Masters of Wine announce the results of their exams held in the UK, Australia and the US last May.
I have not caught up with all the results (see below for an update) but I am absolutely thrilled to report that Jeannie Cho Lee MW, pictured here, can now put those precious letters M and W after her name. She passed the exams last year but you may not call yourself a Master of Wine nowadays unless you have written a dissertation on some wine-related topic and had it passed by the IMW’s arcane vetting procedure. And, it should be said, that some people pass the exams but do not manage to complete their dissertations to the IMW’s satisfaction. (I was reminded of this when reading th recent thread on wine tasting and perception started by David Schildknecht. This was the proposed focus of a very interesting dissertation but the topic did not find favour with the IMW.)
Jeannie had already decided to devote her dissertation to the place of her home city Hong Kong in the world of fine wine. So what a windfall it was when HK announced last February that it was scrapping duty on wine and going all-out to make itself the Asian hub of the fine wine world. Jeannie submitted her dissertation a few months ago and has just heard that it has been passed and that she may now consider herself an MW.
Jeannie’s parents are Korean and she was educated in the US. (I first met her at the Harvard Club in New York, as it happens.) But for some time she has been resident in Hong Kong where she lives with her husband and four daughters, and runs a wine school in conjunction with Berry Bros. She is also a prolific wine writer having contributed to publications such as the Wine Spectator for many years. Here is one of her contributions to this site, for example, on the difficult business of Korean food and wine.
This is a great step not just for Jeannie but possibly even more for the Masters of Wine, I feel, spreading their influence to the most dynamic continent for wine in the mid 21st century, with China already producing more wine than Australia.
With Debra Meiburg, together with James Cluer MW whose pass was announced in May, this brings the tally of Masters of Wine resident in Asia to a very satisfying three. And Asian students are so notoriously hard-working, it probably won’t be long until Asians constitute the majority of MWs.