Published on October 17, 2022
Find out more about DWUK’s Master of Wine, Clive Barlow.
How did your passion for wine start?
It all started when I lived in Hampshire in the late 1980s and helped out a local grower with the harvest. I was amazed how the wine was made and how each grape created different flavours. How each wine was different from producer to producer and country to country. Wine seemed, and still seems, fascinating. And great to taste and share with people.
What is the path like for becoming a MW and what are your best memories during studying?
To enter the study programme to become an MW, you need to pass the WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) Level 4 exams, or equivalent. Once in the programme, there is a series of seminars, self-study and tastings over two to three years to prepare you for the MW exams which includes five written papers covering production, business and contemporary issues, and three Practical (blind tasting) papers. If you manage to pass both the Theory and Practical parts, both notoriously difficult, there is a Research Paper to complete.
My best memories during studying were sharing experiences with my fellow students whilst travelling and visiting producers in Europe.
Is there a wine region you would love to explore more?
Possibly not a region but a country. Italy is very diverse, makes superb wines, has wonderful culture and not least has some of the best food in the world.
What wine do you think people should appreciate, but don’t?
Well, there is one region which the wine trade loves but never seems to get the recognition it deserves and that region is Alsace. The wines are generally understated and intended to partner the fairly hearty cuisine of the region. As a result, it does not necessarily fit with modern wine styles. In addition, the grape varieties grown there, such as Pinot Blanc, Muscat and Gewurztraminer are not fashionable but can offer texture and quality. The Riesling grape, my favourite white variety, thrives here and produces some of the best wines in the world. So, to my mind the wine which people should appreciate, but don’t, is the Alsace Riesling. For those wanting to see what it can do, I can heartily recommend the Cave de Ribeauville Riesling.
Is there one tip on wine that you like to share with everyone?
Get good glasses, it will make all your wine taste better.
Where do you see the English wine industry going over the next ten years?
Overall, if we get the right climatic conditions, the English wine industry will continue to grow and evolve, with increased sale both home and abroad. We will see maintaining the standards of production and a growth in quality and consistency as the vines get older and as Viticulturalists become more attuned to the particular terroir of the vineyards. There will be more still wine produced, with an increase in known grape varieties. Also, an increase in the Charmat sparkling styles. There will be an increase in the volume produced, and, if climate change continues, a move northward in terms of the area of production. Sparkling wine will be the main style. The quality will get better and there will be a wider global recognition of the quality of English sparkling wine.
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About the author
Chloe looks after all copywriting and proof-reading for Drink Warehouse UK, working with the Marketing team to deliver educational content to all our customers. She has spent many years in the hospitality sector, moving from behind the bar to now helping venues to stock their own. You can find more from Chloe about beer, cider, spirits, wine, non-alcoholic, soft drinks and RTDs all over our blogs, website, social media and Set The Bar magazine.
Clive Barlow, Master of Wine
Clive Barlow MW started his wine career when working at the vineyard in Hampshire’s New Forest in the late 1980s. His belief is that wine is made to be shared and enjoyed, not to be pontificated over. Wine is a drink that people enjoy at home as well as in bars and restaurants all over the world. Now, more than ever, we need good wine to share and bring people together.