New Yorkers and Masters of Wine: Striving to be Better, Not Necessarily the Best

Upon returning from a four-day long Masters of Wine exam in San Francisco, I started to think about the many shared traits of those seeking to achieve one of the highest qualifications in the world of wine and New Yorkers: both have  received an unfair prejudice, are constantly trying to improve, and like to get inspired by others fighting to be better everyday / Leggi in italiano

I just came back from a four-day long Masters of Wine exam in San Francisco. It started to make me think, being a New Yorker and Master of Wine candidate has one main thing in common: they always strive to be better, not necessarily the best.

The Masters of Wine is one of the highest qualifications in the world of wine. Some of the top wine writers in the world are Masters of Wine. It is an exam that includes 13 essays and 36 wines tasted blind and takes place over 20 hours in only four days. According to the Masters of Wine website, there are only currently 322 Masters of Wine in the world, with 100 of those being women. There were 321 students from 38 countries enrolled last year alone. By looking at these numbers you realize only very few who go after the qualification ever receive it. 

It is interesting to me to compare what the Masters of Wine have in common with being a New Yorker. Many people come to New York because they want to challenge themselves to become better. It does not matter if it is wine, business or art – there are many people running around trying to improve their skills everyday in New York City. 

I feel that New York City has received an unfair prejudice around the world as a city for those who only want to make a lot of money. Yes, since there are over 8.5 million people in the small proximity of the city, there are a decent amount of wealthy people who earn high salaries on Wall Street. But this is a funny notion to most people who live here, because most people are hard working, middle class people. Many movies and books have glamorized the wealth in New York City, but no one has really glamorized those who are working long hours and barely getting paid for it. Also, I find the notion that most New Yorkers are out for themselves, trying to be the best at all costs, only apply to a few. 

I think there is an unfair prejudice in the wine world about the Masters of Wine. Some wine writers have unfairly written that it is an elitist group of wine snobs. 

The truth of most people’s reality in New York City is a tough one. Many work long hours, live in tiny accommodations and struggle with the idea that most days are not going to be easy. New Yorkers do not make that much compared to the cost of living in this city. But all of these aforementioned points are a testament to how much people want to be surrounded by others who are fighting to be better everyday, so they inspire you to be better. And New Yorkers love to help other hard working people. 

This is the case with the Masters of Wine program. I have met at least 30 Masters of Wine, if not more, and every one has been an approachable, inspiring and generous person who has tried to help me with my own struggle of trying to attain this title. And even though they have already attained this title for themselves, they still strive to learn more, and to generously share what they have learned. 

I do not get my results until mid-September, and so, I do not know if I have passed one of the most difficult wine exams in the world. But pass or fail, I feel very lucky that I have been part of a program that has made me better in many ways. 

I’m back in New York City, and even though it is an overwhelming, gritty city – I’m thankful that I live here as well. Everyday I see people who inspire me to be better, a food truck making amazing food, a pianist on the street playing beautiful music or actors performing theatre in a parking lot. Everywhere I go I am surrounded by inspiring people who remind me that I don’t want to just walk through life, but I want to live it. And it is not about being the best; when you are the best it means the journey ends. It is about being better. 


Cathrine's Recommendations

Everyday Drinking Wine (less than $15)

2014 CVNE (Cune Rosado) from Rioja, Spain ($11): Made from 100% Tempranillo. CVNE is one of the most renowned wineries in Spain. They are mainly known for their red Rioja wines, but they make a fun rosé wine. This wine shows more weight than its Provencal rosé, finishing with more fruit and floral notes than minerality. 

Special Occasion Wine (from $15 to 50)

2013 Grosjean Freres"Vigne Rovettaz" Petite Arvin from Vallee d’Aoste, Italy ($25): Made from 100% Petite Arvin. Rich flavors of grapefruit and lime blossom with a good structure and textural palate. 

Fantasy Wine (over $50)

2010 Leflaive Puligny Montrachet Clavoillons 1er Cru from Burgundy, France ($150): Earlier this year the great Anne-Claude Leflaive unexpectedly passed away. She was considered one of the best white wine makers in the world. Also, she was a pioneer for organic and biodynamic practices. 2010 is one of the greatest modern vintages for White Burgundy, and this wine certainly expresses this beautifully. Elegant wine that is stunning in its almost perfect balance of crisp acidity, juicy apricot fruit and well integrated spicy oak aromatics. This wine will take your breath away. 

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