The Competitive Side of Wine-a Review of SOMM
Of wine and flashcards
Ah, I love the smell of a freshly opened can of tennis balls and desperation in the evening! Who hasn’t poured a lovely glass of wine, swirled, sniffed and detected a hint of tennis balls? What?! No?! Me, either, but I assure you that this rather unique descriptor will remain imbedded in my memory henceforth when I taste wines thanks to the new documentary, SOMM.
SOMM hit U.S. theaters in June, but actually debuted at the Napa Valley Film Festival in late 2012. I had the good fortune to catch this film at the Sundance Cinemas in West Hollywood this past weekend and enjoyed the show with a good friend and a glass of wine in hand (isn’t this how all movies should be enjoyed?). What a fitting way to watch it too, as this movie follows four good friends, Ian Cauble, Brian McClintic, Dlynn Proctor and Dustin Wilson, on their journey to achieve the Master Sommelier diplomas.
Master Sommelier (MS), is a designation earned through the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) and is known for being the toughest test a sommelier will take in their career. There are fewer than 200 Master Sommeliers worldwide (11 of them are from here in southern Nevada!). The exam is held only once a year and the work a candidate must put into preparing for it is intense! Viewers of SOMM get to see the fun, the work, that intensity, and the (at times) insanity that is the life of an MS candidate in their relentless pursuit to pass the exam and how it affects not only them, but also their loved ones. Ian, Brian, DLynn and Dustin, let us in on their unique views of wine, the industry and, most important, the studying process-from extreme amounts of flash cards to seemingly laid back wine tastings at home using the omnipresent (at least to an MS candidate) tasting grid. The spouses, significant others, family and friends of the MS hopefuls let us in on each person’s history leading up to their wine careers and we get a sense of how all-encompassing the experience can become when your beloved candidate eats, breathes, tastes, spits (a yucky reality of a sommelier’s life) and sleeps wine.
This film is unique in that it gives a never-before-seen look at the exam, which, up until now, had not allowed cameras to document the exam process, thus helping preserve the exclusivity and prestigious stature of the organization and the designation. But, I think it was a wonderful idea that CMS agreed to raise the curtain, so to speak, and allow us oenophiles (that’s wine lovers, by the way) to see why this designation means so much to the professionals who we, the average wine enthusiasts, turn to for help to find the finest wines. And, thanks to the four gentleman featured, and their enthusiasm and drive, this film brings home to wine lovers, both longtime and new, the passion, appreciation and love for a beverage that can give rise to the sweetest of smells, capture the taste of lands near and far, and evoke the best of memories.
You’ll laugh, you may cry, and I’m sure you’ll pour another glass of wine.
In addition to checking the links to the website, iTunes and Facebook above, be sure to follow SOMM on Twitter as well.