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SOMM, the Documentary Film



The documentary movie SOMM by Jason Wise provides an inside look at what candidates for the Court of Master Sommeliers Diploma go through before taking Level IV of the Master Sommelier Diploma examination. The film portrays the intensity  and time required of anyone planning to achieve the Master Sommelier Diploma.

SOMM focuses on four men intent on obtaining the elusive Court of Master Sommelier Diploma. Viewers of the film will see this small group of people interrelate as they taste wines working to identify the grape varieties, country origin, appellation and vintages. In order to successfully pass the examination, they must also know about the theory and practical side of restaurant wine service.

The beginning of the film shows images of grapes reaching a winery, pressing, barrel making, barrel filling, and bottling. Later the focus is on the four candidates tasting wines and talking about them. This emphasizes the amount of time and effort spent learning but at this point the film tends to become tedious.

The documentary mentions the tasting grid used to identify unknown wines, provides some interesting wine descriptions including “my grandmother’s closet” and working with difficult customers.

At the end of the film only two people pass the examination. Another two are invited to return the following year to retake the exam. One chose to return again and another decided not to return. According to SOMM, about 50 people took the exam and only six passed.


SOMM is likely a good film to watch if you are planning on taking the Master Sommelier Diploma examination. It will likely give you an idea of the incredible knowledge base needed and the time needed to achieve the diploma. For most people to earn this diploma would be an intense struggle. With only a little over 200 people who have received the diploma, it is a noteworthy goal to achieve.


I was surprised that the map and discussion of wine regions in the world did not include the country Georgia, now frequently referred to as the birthplace of wine. Also the map of the new world wine regions did not include Ontario that is a thriving wine region,

For those who only have a passing interest in wine or just like to make wine disappear, there are other more entertaining wine-related films to watch.

I am looking forward to watching the next film by Jason Wise, SOMM: Into the Bottle available in 2015.



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