One of the questions I’m most often asked is about the meaning of life. Which, as anyone knows, is 42. Sorry, inside joke. Actually, the most often asked wine question is a variation of how someone can learn more about tasting. Or how someone studying wine can get access to an industry expert, especially if they live in a secondary (or tertiary) market. The good news is that there’s one answer to all the previous—one answer to find them, one to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. It’s called Master the World.
Master the World, or MTW as I like to call it, is the brain child of good friend and fellow MS, Evan Goldstein, and his business partner, Limeng Stroh. Some years ago, as Evan tells it, he watched a NY-based sommelier student preparing for an exam unpack a set of six crudely-packed mini-bottles to practice blind tasting. The bottles had been packed by a friend back home to help her study. After she finished tasting through the set of wines and making notes, she emailed her friend to learn the identities of the wines so she could cross-check it with her conclusions. The process was cumbersome at best with the condition of the rebottled wines suspect.
Evan thought there had to be a better way for students to train their palates and prepare for exams, not to mention consumers who simply wanted to learn more about tasting wine. Over the next few years, Evan and Limeng kept returning to the dilemma of how someone could learn about wine using tasting kits. Through prolonged trial and error, they developed a rebottling process where high quality wines could be repackaged in smaller 187ml bottles and avoid oxidation, even to the extent of passing strict sensory and lab analyses. Mind you these were only the initial hurdles that had be overcome to get the tasting kits to market. The Byzantine maze of state and federal regulatory alcohol laws had to be navigated. Branding and packaging also had to be developed. Finally, all-important online tasting evaluation tools had to be created.
The latter is where I entered the picture. In the summer of 2018, Evan and I were on multiple calls discussing a tasting grid he’d written. The grid in question covered every aspect of blind tasting a wine including the sight, nose, and palate, as well as the means for making a conclusion about a wine’s identity. Evan and I spent hours on the phone going over every criteria of the grid in detail.
The sum total of high-quality wines repackaged into smaller bottles and online tasting grid became Master the World–a wine club like no other. MTW allows wine students and consumers to purchase tasting kits of six wines from the company’s website. The wines arrive packaged “blind” with a peel-off sticker on the back label. Once the sticker is removed, the label reveals all the pertinent info about the wine including winery name, grape variety, geographical info, and more. All the wines are vetted and selected by teams of Master Sommeliers, including Evan, dear friend Madeline Triffon, and yours truly. Per that, I’ve spent entire weeks at a time with Evan and Madeline, tasting through hundreds of wines, a fraction of which make the cut and end up in MTW kits.
But wait, there’s more. Once a month, Madeline, Evan, and I meet online via Zoom and taste through one of the kits. Over the course of 90 minutes, the three of us take turns going through the wines using the respective tasting grids posted on the website.
Those who purchase the kit can taste the wines blind right along with us, and then fill out the online grids, even voting their conclusions in the polls provided in the presentation. However, purchasing a kit is not required to join the tastings. Anyone can access a tasting by using links listed on the site (https://mtwwines.com/).
During the 90-minute webinar tastings, Evan, Madeline, and I not only talk about our pair of wines, but offer tasting pointers, salient facts about the wines and wineries in the flight, food and wine pairing (one of Evan’s specialties), and much more. The three of us have also known each other for over 30 years and are dear friends. So we share a wonderful camaraderie. And yes, we laugh at each other’s lame jokes.
I can’t think of a better way to learn about wine than tuning in to one of the Master the World tastings. Where else can you listen to three Master Sommeliers with over a century of combined industry experience talk about tasting—and have a good time doing it.
The next online tasting is on Friday, January 19, at 1:00 PM MST/3:00 PM EST. To register for the tasting, use the following link (https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_yWI25YwoSriLLXklWeIK_g#/registration). Future tastings over the next couple of months will be held on February 16 and March 15 at the same time. I hope you can join us.