This week's pick: "Somm," a strangely captivating look into the world of wine tasting and culture. The documentary chronicles the trials and tribulations of a group of men studying to be sommeliers or, more specifically, Master Sommeliers. They're quirky, arrogant, obsessive, supportive and honestly, quite fascinating. These dudes have dedicated more time to wine than their own wives in a few instances and if that's not a ~~pour~~ decision, we don't know what is.
What's it about, you ask?
Sommeliers are a quickly-growing necessity in the high-end food and beverage industry.
Let's put it this way: A four-star restaurant without an in-house somm is like a coffee shop in Brooklyn without a hipster barista. It just doesn't happen anymore. But that's not (necessarily) what "Somm" is about. The film follows Ian Cauble, Dustin Wilson, DLynn Proctor and Brian McClintic on their journey to become Master Sommeliers.
During a three-week period leading up to their exam, our four crusaders grind through stockpiles of flashcards, administer mock quizzes and blind tastings; indulging often, stressing constantly.
To take the Master Sommelier exam, one must have passed the Advanced exam, be invited and/or recommended to sit the exam and have typically worked in the industry for at least 10 years.
Passing the Master Sommelier exam, on the other hand, is a little more...complicated.
Wikipedia offers a pretty good synopsis: "The exam covers all aspects of the world and industry of wine, beer, spirits/cocktails and hospitality from a business, service and philosophical approach. The three-part, oral exam consists of theory (must be passed before taking the other two parts), blind tasting six wines before a panel, and service. It is allowed to take the blind tasting and service exam in successive years. Once the first portion is passed, a candidate has a three-year window, starting with the first attempt, to pass all three portions. If all three parts are not passed in the three-year window the candidate resets to zero and must retake all parts. The minimum score for each of the three sections to pass is 75 percent at the Master Sommelier level."
Now, if reading that doesn't make you want a hefty glass of vino, you may want to consider consulting your primary care physician.
But what makes it <i>different</i>?<div><sup>And why should I care?</sup></div>
"Somm" is unique in a variety of ways. It is, to the best of our knowledge, the first character-driven documentary that dives into sommelier culture and boy oh boy, did the documentary filmmakers find some grade-A characters for this one.
These guys are...particular. Each is insanely driven and equally well versed in wine. Their oddities and backstories are illuminated through their studies and we'd be doing them a disservice if we said that these somms were living any semblance of a normal life.
They're also all definitely addicted to wine, without a doubt.
"Somm" is also a great learning opportunity. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, what better time than now to improve your wine-IQ?! You'll be able to impress friends and family with your in-depth knowledge of all things wine.
While the four future somms answer questions about vine variation, wine acidity, color, region of origin, year of origin, color, notes and a whole barrel-load of other topics, you'll be sure to soak up some of the knowledge along the way.
If you're still on the fence...
...follow these instructions:
- Grab two bottles of wine.
- Drink one bottle of said wine.
- Go on Netflix.
- Select "Somm."
- Drink the other bottle of said wine while watching "Somm."
It'll be over before you know it.