There has been such a dearth of good movies and television shows about wine for the past decade. Few of us would have noticed if there hadn’t been so much great food TV: Anthony Bourdain wondering if he can manage a week long trip to Saudi Arabia because there will be no booze served or if he really can relate the American-born Saudi woman—covered head to toe—who will be his culinary guide?
The last wine-themed TV program I saw featured close-up shots of an overweight sommelier jumping up and down when she won a “wine challenge.” The footage is not only not interesting, it is downright uncomfortable to watch.
SOMM, which chronicles the obsessive compulsive nature of a group of San Francisco-based wine professionals, doesn’t really get to the core of who they are and why passing this exam is so important to them. I presumed—full disclosure—as I knew many of them that I might be more interested in their emotional involvement in studying for and hopefully passing this test, however I wasn't.
The viewer’s involvement wasn't a key focus for anyone involved in producing this film. The film succeeds most when it compares the machismo of taking the Master Sommelier exam to a man’s desire to excel at sports. Unfortunately it only primarily makes the protagonists seem short sighted and competitive and makes the rest of us wonder why no women were interviewed and profiled in this film although many more of them are taking the exam every year. It wasn’t a perspective that was given to the viewers of SOMM so perhaps we will never know.
Liza the Wine Chick