July 10, 2013

Must See: The documentary "SOMM"

I finally watched “Somm,” the wine documentary that is rightfully getting a lot of buzz in wine circles and Hollywood circles alike.    And, boy, am I glad I did.
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I’m no film critic, so I’m not about to critique the directorial choices of the filmmaker.  I would rather chat for a bit on the subject of the film–the challenging road to obtaining the very elusive and exclusive Master Sommelier credential.
As a wine lover and student of wine, the documentary spoke to me most when delving into what it really is that draws people into the sommelier profession, and what it is that challenges them to push themselves in the field.
The movie opens with a quote from Ian Cauble, one of the sommeliers that the movie focuses on throughout:
“We’re all so busy with our lives. How often do you stop and look at something? How often do you stop and smell something? You know what I mean? We go through life with such a day to day routine, and we don’t really stop and experience and breathe and just appreciate what’s there. And I think that’s one thing that wine has enabled me to do — You stop, and you take it, and you look at it, and you smell it, and you live life through your senses; and for that quick 25 minutes it’s like nothing else matters other than this liquid.”
This to me, is one of the great joys of wine.  I find it incredible that it can take you, in a mere matter of moments, to another part of your state, or region of the world, or even to another hemisphere by using mainly your senses of smell and taste.
While some parts of the science of wine are so subjective to one’s own palate or sense of smell, it’s ability to transport is universal.  That’s why I say to friends who think they don’tget wine that they don’t have to agree–sure, sommeliers jockey to all taste the same passionfruit or cat pee or my all-time favorite descriptor from “Somm”–”a freshly opened can of tennis balls”–but if you don’t agree, that’s ok.  What you do need to do is take your time–close your eyes and smell and be transported to a foggy hillside vineyard in the Alsace, or feel the hot Spanish sun beating down your back.
That is the transformative power of wine.  And while the documentary touched on a great many other topics (which I will be happy to address soon), this one just seemed the most relevant to me right now.  As a student of wine, it’s easy for me to get caught up in learning facts and maps and varietals and difficult names–but I can’t lose sight of wine’s ability to put all things in perspective as it encourages you and I to “live life through your senses.”
Stay tuned for more articles inspired by “Somm.”  I am not affiliated with the movie in any way, just a fan who found herself inspired.  To watch Somm (which you should!), you can buy it on iTunes, or rent in through Amazon Instant and a few other providers.  

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