One day last year I was searching for something new to watch on Netflix. I wasn’t interested in re-watching yet another episode of Downton Abbey or Gilmore Girls, but wasn’t excited about jumping into a new drama or comedy either.
And then, lo and behold, a movie recommendation came up in my Netflix feed that looked interesting – a documentary called SOMM.
Somm is the story of five people (no women, sadly) training and testing to achieve the designation of Master Sommelier. As a wine lover and lifelong learner that was all I needed to press my finger on the play button.
The first time I saw this movie it blew my mind. First of all, these people love wine. I mean, they L-O-V-E wine. It consumes their life. How any of them have partners is beyond me, since they seem to spend every waking minute reading about wine, tasting wine, testing each other on their wine knowledge, and generally nerding out to this delicious substance.
As a comparatively casual learner and enjoyer of wine, this kind of intensity is both amazing and appalling to me. Amazing because the sheer volume of knowledge these people possess and call up at a moment’s notice is just staggering. They know SO. MUCH. And appalling because they have completely given their lives over to this pursuit. They’ve gone off the deep end, into a wine-filled abyss that only achieving the Master Sommelier designation can bring them back from. As someone who proudly and happily has many interests and goals, that kind of tunnel vision gives me hives.
See what I mean? I see that clip and think, ‘wow, they really know their stuff!’ but also, “underripe green mango? crushed chalky hillside? freshly opened can of tennis balls and fresh rubber hose?! Come on!’ Just ridiculous. I love learning about wine (and would love to be able to get to the point where I can identify a wine by tasting alone!) but this is a whole level I just can’t bring myself to aspire to.
That being said, if you are at all into wine you should see this movie. It’s fascinating to see these guys go through the process, and the documentary is made so well that you really feel for them by the end of it. You can find Somm on Netlfix in Canada as well as on iTunes (Canada and US) and Amazon (also Canada and US).
And then, once you’ve watched and loved Somm you can check out the same filmmaker’s new documentary, Into the Bottle. This one kind of picks up where Somm left off, only instead of showing five people’s personal journeys toward to pinnacle of wine knowledge, Into the Bottle looks at the winemaking process. My favourite part of the trailer below is the woman who says, ‘can there be any other business where there’s so much bullshit’? It looks like, unlike Somm, Into the Bottle will take a keen eye to the more ridiculous aspects of wine and the wine business. I can’t wait.