A further six students, including four women, have made it through the notoriously gruelling Master of Wine exams to earn their place in the wine world's elite club.

The Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW), has announced its newest members as Anne Krebiehl, Nastasha Hughes, Robin Kick, Louise Sydbeck, Rob MacCulloch and Nicholas Paris. There are now 319 MWs globally.

Of those, 96 are women and the IMW highlighted that women have constituted around 50% of new MWs over the past decade.

Anne Krebiehl, a freelance wine writer and lecturer who became the fifth German MW this week, described passing all three MW exams as a huge relief.

‘The past four-and-a-half years were characterised by relentless pressure and hard work – but also by meeting some of the best people,’ she told Decanter.com.

‘I went completely out of my comfort zone to achieve this, but today I feel grateful, glad and blessed – and so very happy.’

Another new entrant, Louise Sydbeck, an ex-sommelier who runs a business with her husband supplying fine wine to yachts on the French Riviera, said becoming an MW has been the greatest adventure of her life.

‘If chemists could create a drug that made you feel like I do today, they would make a fortune.’

Historically, many more have failed the MW exams than passed them, an aspect which has caused debate within the IMW and outside.

Last year, MWs voted against a motion to cut the dissertation element of the MW examination process and retain only the practical and theory exams. Instead, the dissertation will be exchanged for a shorter research paper of between 6,000 and 10,000 words.

Of the other new female MWs announced this week, UK-based Natasha Hughes is a freelance writer, educator and consultant, while Chicago-born Robin Kick works for fine wine broker Arvi in Swizterland and has previously worked for both Christie’s and Goedhuis & Co.

Of the men, Nicholas Paris, a trained sommelier who is an education senior manager at E&J Gallo Winery in the US, said that ‘passing the MW exam has long been a dream of mine’.

He added, ‘I am committed to the world of wine and hope to be able to contribute more to it as an MW. I particularly look forward to helping other students in their wine studies.’

UK-based Rob MacCulloch began his career with Oddbins in 1995 and now works for Burgundy specialist importer Domaine Direct, as well as part-time for independent retailer Taurus Wines.

Written by Chris Mercer