About Us

International Wine Center opened its doors in New York City in 1982. Over its 30-plus years as a wine and spirits school, IWC has helped many thousands of professionals and wine lovers increase their knowledge and discover the pleasures of spirits and wine.

In 1994, International Wine Center became the first organization in the U.S. to offer the courses of the prestigious Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET®). In 2003, International Wine Center became the U.S. Headquarters of that organization. WSET® instructs members of the wine and spirit trade as well as consumers internationally; its highest qualification, Diploma, is the traditional pre-requisite necessary for those who wish to become Master of Wine students. WSET courses are available in 73 countries and in 17 languages, and more than 85,000 students per year sit its examinations.

To date, 308 individuals who studied at International Wine Center have received the WSET Diploma in Wines & Spirits, including 14 individuals who are now Masters of Wine.

In 2015, International Wine Center became licensed by the New York State Department of Education as a Private Career School.

International Wine Center instructs approximately 1,000 students annually in the greater New York City area. International Wine Center’s intention is to promote independent-minded wine and spirits study and responsible enjoyment, devoid of promotional interest. IWC’s offices and modern, comfortable classrooms are at 350 Seventh Avenue (29th/30th Sts.) in Manhattan.

Click on the name of each team member to learn more.

  • Mary Ewing-Mulligan MW

    President, International Wine Center

    Mary Ewing-Mulligan, president of International Wine Center is the first woman in America to become a Master of Wine. This title represents the highest level of knowledge and proficiency in the wine trade. Currently 380 individuals worldwide are Masters of Wine, including 48 in the U.S.

    winestylebookIn addition to heading International Wine Center, Mary is co-author (with her husband, Ed McCarthy) of “Wine For Dummies” and “Wine Style, Using your senses to explore and enjoy wine,” both published by John Wiley & Sons. With more than one million copies sold, translations into 38 languages, and an audio tape, Wine For Dummies is the fastest-selling wine book ever in the U.S. The couple have also authored White Wine For Dummies, Red Wine For Dummies, Wine Buying Companion For Dummies, Italian Wine For Dummies and French Wine For Dummies.


    Mary Ewing-Mulligan was wine columnist for The Daily News in New York City for more than ten years, as well as a columnist for trade magazines, “Nation’s Restaurant News” and “Beverage Dynamics.” She also contributed wine articles to several publications in the U.S. and England. She is a past president of the Institute of Masters of Wine (North America) and currently serves as one of its Directors.

    Her accomplishments have been featured in numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Food & Wine magazine, The New York Times, The Wine Spectator, Newsday, and Gourmet, and she has made dozens of television appearances. She also frequently judges at major national and international tasting competitions, and lectures to private groups.

  • Michael Ahlborn, DWS, CWE

    National Development Coordinator

    Michael is the National Development Coordinator at International Wine Center. After many years in the auto industry, and later in information technology, the tech crash of 2000 encouraged him to explore the world of wine full time. For several years he worked for wine retailers in New Jersey and Philadelphia and taught WSET® courses at the Philly Wine school. At IWC he continues his involvement with WSET®, where he divides his time between developing the WSET® provider program throughout the United States and helping IWC students navigate their way through the challenging WSET Level 4 Diploma program. Michael is a Certified Wine Educator through the Society of Wine Educators and completed his WSET® Diploma studies at IWC in 2005.

  • Maria Soerem

    Student Services Coordinator

  • Paula Maia

    Operations Manager

    Paula is the Operations Manager and Buyer at International Wine Center. With over 20 years in the hospitality industry, Paula has completed her WSET Level 3 Advanced with Distinction and the WSET Diploma Level 4. Paula has also formal training in culinary arts and holds a certification from the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners-ICIF.
    From 2007 to 2016 Paula owned and operated OAK, a Restaurant & Wine Bar together with her husband Renato Sinitean, a WSET Diploma holder. With OAK they shared their love of food, wine and travel. Paula is an active wine traveler and frequently attends wine tastings, seminars and events.