Friday, May 17, 2013


I don't remember how I first heard about Somm.  I get a ton of food related e-mails so I'm sure it was in one of those.  I heard about it many months ago, possibly even a year ago.  I started following Somm on Facebook and boy, it was slow moving.  (It took three years to make)  They finally announced the release date to Netflix and ITunes and it's June 21st.  I crossed my fingers hoping it would be shown in Wichita on the big screen prior to June.  Shockingly, Jiro Dreams of Sushi was shown in our humble city, but it was only for one night and I was in Kansas City that weekend.  You can imagine my excitement (okay, elation) when I received an e-mail a couple weeks ago about a special screening of Somm.  Woohoo!  Just wait, it gets better.  Not only was I going to get to see this over a month before it comes out, I was also going to get to drink wine (only natural during a movie about wine) AND it was outside at our beautiful Botanical Gardens here in the Ta.  (I actually don't like it when people refer to Wichita as the "Ta", but I'm outta here in two months and figured I'd try it out just once.  Still isn't for me.)  Any who, if you're my KC friends reading this it was like Theatre in the Park, but with chairs, and food, and wine.  Oh, and a movie screen and not real actors.  Okay, maybe it wasn't like Theatre in the Park per se, but it felt the grown up version of that.  And, let me tell you, the weather could not have been more beautiful!  It was an absolutely perfect evening.

I've been telling people about this documentary for months now.  We invited a few friends and Josh conveniently waited until we sat down to tell me one of them didn't come because he looked up the reviews and it only got 3 stars.  My excitement fell a notch as I had three other friends joining us and I'd feel terrible if the movie was horrible. I was nervous.  

We grabbed some appetizers, our first sample of wine and then it was time to start Somm.  Thankfully, those professional critics don't know what they are talking about.  This documentary was fascinating!  Furthermore, it was very funny!  The entire crowd laughed numerous times at the banter between the characters.   

So, what's it about?  It follows four men who are preparing for the Master Sommelier examination.  It's a test with one of the lowest pass rates in the world.  (Only 200 people in the world have passed)  A few minutes into this documentary you will see why.  What these men can do is nothing short of amazing!  Are you ready for this?  One of the parts of their test is they have six wines in glasses placed in front of them; three white, three red.  They have 25 minutes, or 4 minutes and 10 seconds per glass to determine what kind it is, what region it is from, and get this...what year it is.  Go ahead and read that again.  The YEAR!!!  I taste wine and can't tell you if it's Cabernet or Pinot Noir.  Can you imagine having to taste and study so much you could determine what year it was made?  I can't believe that is even possible, but as you watch Somm you will see their study methods and their tasting practices.  It's pretty awesome.

They explained there's three parts to the test: theory, tasting, and service.  Being a former restaurant worker (and boy, do I still miss it some days!) I naturally would have liked to see more of the service aspect.  There was only one teeny part where they showed one candidate doing a simulation for the service portion.  I liked it and would have really enjoyed more.  However, I can see why the director kept that short as I'm sure that would be boring for other viewers. 

If you like wine, this is a must watch come June 21st!  I found it extremely interesting and I would highly recommend it.  Watch this trailer to get a sneak peak:

My favorite catch phrase in the advertisements is:

"The hardest test you've never heard of."

Such a great set up.  They even passed out popcorn when the movie started! :)

I love this guy.  He had his practice oral boards the next day, but saw my excitement when I said I wanted to go see this and he came with me anyway. I mean, he's only heard me talk about for months now.  True love.  I owe him one!

These two thoughts aren't really specifics about the movie, but I felt like sharing. Lucky you. First, I find it so intriguing how people can be experts at different things.  I mean, think about coffee shop owners.  Have you ever heard them talk about the beans and the process and how you make different kinds?  Or, one time, I visited a flour plant.  That guy could have talked for hours about the kernels and how you make white flour, wheat flour, etc. I think it's awesome how we can be "experts" in so many different things.

Second, at one point during the movie, one of the candidates' Dad was interviewed.  He said at a young age (I think 8 years old) his son would grab a glass of wine off their table and start discussing the color, the smell, etc.  His father went on to explain this was not something the family would do, as they weren't particularly "into" wine, but his son just started doing it.  I was thinking how cool it is how God gives all of us, even at a young age, our interests.  Sure, some grow into more and some don't, but it's like the story of my mom saying when I was really little she looked over at the grocery store and I was reading a nutrition label.  She said the same thing as the dad in Somm. I didn't learn that from her, but I was interested in nutrition even as a young girl. 

That wraps up my kind of random review, but a great evening was spent watching a very interesting documentary.  I hope you get a chance to watch it!

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