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June 18, 2013 at 9:58 AM

SOMM: Film follows would-be master sommeliers

Allow me to raise a glass to SOMM, a new documentary in which four guys vie for a spot on the court.  I’m not talking Wimbledon here; I mean The Court of Master Sommeliers.


SOMMThe quest to become a Master Sommelier, the highest distinction a professional in the fine wine and beverage industry can attain, requires the same commitment, perseverance and years of training as any professional sport. The final test requires candidates to prove their skills in Theory, Service and Tasting. It’s the Ironman Triathlon of sommeliers. Very few succeed.


“The whole thing is really intense,” acknowledges Thomas Price, head sommelier at The Metropolitan Grill. “The athletic analogies get made constantly. But that’s the only thing I can compare it to. You put so much into it and you know going in that in all likelihood you may not pass.”


Price became a Master Sommelier in 2012, one of six in Washington.  That’s  fewer than California, which has dozens, but more than New York (5) and Oregon (1). Of the 201 Master Sommeliers worldwide, 133 of them are in North America.


Filmmaker Jason Wise followed his subjects for two years, capturing the competitive all-night tastings with peers, the rigorous practice sessions with mentors, and the candid observations of the contenders, their wives and girlfriends.


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