Swens N’ Dobs // The Fellowship of the Ring

We watched Somm, a 2012 documentary by Jason Wise available on Netflix. The filmmakers follow four young sommeliers attempting to pass the nearly-impossible Master Sommelier exam.


The four young wine-tasters in Somm seem so wrapped up in their passion, they barely even recognize what’s going on around them. The filmmaker interviews their wives and girlfriends, all of whom feel somewhat abandoned while their partners obsessively study for their Master Sommelier exam. Perhaps the film itself is a bit too single-minded in its approach, focusing almost exclusively on its ambitious main characters. The movie shines when it dips its toes into the larger culture of wine-tasting. It is fascinating to hear Master Sommeliers gush about the first American to pass the test on his first try, a legendary figure. I loved listening to one somm discuss his methods for training his sense of smell—visiting the farmers market to learn how to detect the intricate differences between the scents of violets, dried violets and rotten violets. These glimpses into the wine world are delightful, but not frequent enough. Somm succeeds in conveying the anxiety and importance of the test, heightening the suspense in every scene—interesting, fresh and worth a watch.


As an avid beer drinker, I don’t often find myself captivated by wine, but Somm somehow managed to do the trick. This documentary tells the story of four aspiring sommeliers who are trying to make that one last step. I thought this was a very interesting documentary because it not only provided an insight into something that very few people know about, but also made me feel attached to the four men that were trying to pass this test. Towards the end of the documentary, each of the men is given their results, and, I am not going to lie, my heart was pounding. This is something that they have been working towards for a very long time, and if they don’t pass they have to wait an entire year before they can take it again. It was also very interesting to hear about what this test was doing to their relationships with their significant others. Two of the men that were being followed actually moved in together while others would video chat from midnight until three in the morning. As someone who is going to graduate in May, this film actually gave me some anxiety because it reminded me of the countless times that I have had to memorize and regurgitate information for the sake of a test. And I definitely hope that is not something that I will have to do again.