When I was studying the Master of Wine programme, the third and final part of the examination evolved from a dissertation into a research paper. In essence they are the same type of work: up to 10,000 words written on an original piece of research concerning a subject relevant to any part of the wine industry.

One of the big differences, however, is that research papers would be made available to read, whereas most dissertations remained unpublished. Today, a list of all 24 RPs that have so far passed the examination has been made publicly available on the Institute of Masters of Wine website. Apart from one, they are all available to read for free - although they cannot be directly downloaded. Instead, a request form must be submitted, which includes a statement agreeing not to publish or disseminate the results further - which is fair enough, as this research is potentially very valuable.

I really hope the wine trade takes advantage of this resource. For example, my own research paper concerned wine books published in the UK and would, I hope, be useful reading for anyone involved in communicating about wine. Other topics include the impact of glassware on the perception of flavour, the creation of Clos de la Roche, as well as several studies of specific wines in specific markets.

Not all of it will be relevant to everyone, and as academic papers they are not supposed to be entertaining reads, but it's heartening that all that hard work is being shared for the greater good of the wine trade.

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