Tim Atkin | Master of Wine

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4th Mar 2014

Commander of Wine

by Ron Washam

 

It was a stupendous amount of work. I knew that going into it, but, still, it was overwhelming. I persevered, spent countless hours studying and memorizing, and I’m proud to announce that it all paid off. I’m a humble person by nature. You won’t see any more letters after my name than I already have, or banners at the top of my blog proclaiming how much talent I have despite the massive evidence to the contrary directly below the banner, but the news will get out anyway, so I wanted to share it with you first on timatkin.com

I have been named the first Commander of Wine!

Most of you will have never heard of the title. It doesn’t matter what you think. That’s what titles are for, to prove to you that it doesn’t matter what you think. For example, you meet me at a wine competition, realize I don’t know very much about wine, dismiss me as a pretender, then find out that I’m an MS. This happens all the time. Ask any winemaker, or buyer for a successful wine shop, they meet those clowns all the time. You think I’m an idiot about wine, but I have an MS., so it doesn’t matter what you think. This is the beauty and power of titles. A band of other people with titles confer upon me the same title, and, voilà, I am one of them. This is also how you become a fairy.

I’m still getting used to the reality that I’m a Commander of Wine. For most of my adult life I’ve been the one and only HMW, HoseMaster of Wine™, but this is something very different. There are 312 Masters of Wine. Now they all answer to me. I am the Commander of Wine. Shit’s going to change around here.

I’d like to share with you some of the many congratulatory Tweets I received after my Commander of Wine status was announced. I think you may recognize a few of the names.

“First Pancho Campo, and now this?! #biteme” — Jancis Robinson, MW

“Question. Which is the biggest fraud? Rudy #fakewine, Hosemaster as CW #funnyasclimatechange, or Riedel Coke glass #stuffmoronsbuy” — Eric Asimov, NYT wit

“Congrats, Hosemaster #funnyasacleftpalate They could have done worse, but they came damned close. #Iquit” — Christy Canterbury, MW

“Commander of Wine? How many MW’s did you blow for that title? #allofthem” — Jay McInerney, WSJ (Wine’s Supreme Jackass)

“Hey…How do you work this f**king thing?...Hello?...My fingers are too fat for this little go****m ketboord…Anyone there?...Hosemaster!!...99 pts…#screwmws” — Robert Parker, God Almighty

Really, the outpouring of affection has been heartwarming and humbling. For a moment, I actually trended on Twitter. #wishhewasdeaderthanbordeauxenprimeur

I won’t bore you with too many details about the testing to become Commander of Wine. Needless to say, it’s even more rigorous than the Master of Wine exams. For example, to become a Master of Wine, you have to pass three tests:

Theory — essentially an essay test on subjects related to wine and the wine business.

Practical — Identifying wines blind.

Dissertation — Bluffing your way through a thesis.

To become the Commander of Wine, I also had to pass these additional exams.

Prostate — Also done blind, though I’m not sure why.

Recital — Performing limericks about MW’s from memory while wearing a Little Lord Fauntleroy outfit. For example,

There once was a Master named Jancis
Who couldn't remember where “France” is.
“I don’t mean to be crass,
I don’t give a rat’s ass,
I don’t even know where my pants is.”

Swimsuit — I rocked this. The judges couldn’t stop staring at my bulge. It was later that I figured out the cucumber is supposed to go in the front of the suit.

Mime — Perhaps the toughest part of the exams. I had to describe different vintages of First Growth Bordeaux using only pantomime. The cucumber helped with Latour.

Social — Perhaps the most critical part of being an MW, or an MS for that matter, as well as Commander of Wine, is never forgetting or overlooking a way to mention it. Putting the initials after your name on everything from your business card to your letterhead is just the beginning. It’s not commonly known, but MW’s also have “Master of Wine” tattoed on their genitals. Most of the men don’t get past “Mast.” And even then it’s flying at half. I had to invent new ways of letting ordinary, that is lesser, people know I was Commander of Wine. The judges were impressed that I was able to taste and identify twelve wines blind, match them perfectly with food I had just prepared, enjoy a hearty repast, and then clearly proclaim myself “Commander of Wine” by belching it to the tune of “The Long and Winding Road.” Being Commander of Wine is just beginning to sink in, and, truthfully, I feel a bit lonely. Maybe the only person who knows what I’m going through is Pope Francis. But, believe me, if he were surrounded by wine people with letters after their names, he’d be rethinking that abortion thing.

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