Somm Documentary Out Now


Without too much fanfare, Somm, a documentary following the quest of four Master Sommelier candidates, opened at the Denver Film Center yesterday.  The only scheduled showings at this point are this Saturday and Sunday only!  They say you never know how much you don’t know until you really start delving into something.  So if you have ever wondered just how much there is to the world of wine, it is a must see.

Several years ago I seriously considered studying for and taking the Certified Sommelier exam as a part of the Court of Master Sommeliers.  This certification marks the first of 3 levels recognized by the court, which become precipitously harder to achieve:

  • Certified Sommelier
  • Advanced Sommelier
  • Master Sommelier

Being somewhat familiar with the format of the examination, I took great amusement watching the quartet squabble about whether a wine was a Côte Rotie or Hermitage while practicing their blind tastings.  As well as them discussing the finer points of wine descriptors- fresh cut garden hose anyone?

However as the film counts down to the start of the exam, I felt palpably nervous for all of them, and the film takes a more serious turn, discussing the great sacrifices that they have all taken to get to this point.  When the exam finally begins, they resort to typical test taking behavior the instant they leave the exam- trying to decide by committee whether wine 2 out of 6 was Sancerre or Albarino.  Many of the audience members, including myself, found ourselves audibly cringing at how different some of the opinions were.  They clearly cannot all be right…

Regardless of your level of knowledge of wine, the film is certainly worth seeing.  Unlike so many modern documentaries, the film steers clear of any overt agenda, realistically painting the cast of characters as professionals instead of martyrs or restaurant industry rock stars.  I can imagine that the ad nauseum discussions about how the wines taste may seem highly pretentious to some, but that level of precision is what characterizes the profession of sommeliers.  It will also give a high level of appreciation that Boulder is home to 5 of the 186 worldwide Master Sommeliers.  Other notable cities with 5 Master Somms: Chicago, Seattle, and New York.  Not bad company at all!

If you do go, pass on the ticket that comes with a glass of wine.  I was more than a little disappointed that the sponsored wine selections were Beringer Chardonnay and Merlot.  It is also available on itunes, so might I suggest downloading it and hosting a blind tasting party.  That will give true appreciation for what these individuals are up against!