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MW students to be voted either "in" or "out" by final BBC Voice-style judging panel

Published:  01 April, 2014

Final year Masters of Wine students will have to face the wine trade's equivalent of the BBC's The Voice in order to stand a chance of being accepted in to the Institute of Masters of Wine.

Instead of being judged on their singing skills by the wine trade's equivalent of Kylie and Tom Jones, a line-up of leading MWs will sit with their backs to the students as they make a final pitch to be accepted as an MW.

Only if one or more of the four MWs turn around within a given time period will the student have passed. If no-one turns then the student will have failed and they will be asked to leave, just as in the TV show.

The final stage of judging has been introduced by the Institute to try and introduce an element of "theatre" and "excitement" to the proceedings.

The idea is said to be at an "early stage" but understands that if it is agreed by the Institute's management committee then the Voice-style proceedings could be played out in front of a live audience.

In a scene more reminiscent of The Hunger Games, MW students would have to walk out in front of the MWs, their identity hidden behind four large wooden chairs, and then make a final five minute pitch as to why they have the skills, the personality and the knowledge to become a full MW.

The final pitch stage would only be for those students that have submitted and had their dissertations marked by the Institute.

It is understood how the students perform in the final live "pitch" stage will ultimately decide if they should be awarded an MW.

Penny  Richards, executive director of the Institute, said: "Anyone who is made an MW in 2014 needs to have the confidence, the personality and the ability to be able to perform effectively before live audiences, be it at tastings, masterclasses, seminars or conferences. That is why we think introducing a final 'pitch' stage to the syllabus will ensure we find the right MWs that are best equipped to make the most of their MW status."

She said if the idea goes ahead then it would look to hold the final Voice-style "pitch hearings" at London's prestigious Guild Hall. The audience would be made up of invited guests, including MWs and other MW students.

 * What do you think? Is this a step too far or is the Institute right to introduce a sense of "theatre" to the MW process? Let us know at