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Sommelier Documentaries and Movies: A Useful List

February 18, 2020
|
Scott

Digging around for information about the wine industry? Wondering what a sommelier is, or how to climb the sommelier levels and becoming a sommelier? If you watch the wine and sommelier documentaries and movies on this list, you’ll know more than 90% of the population. That’s a great start.

Pick a sommelier documentary to learn some cold, hard facts, or a wine movie to expand your perspective.

Either way, kick back, relax, and let this useful information supplement your wine study.

Looking for a Sommelier Documentary?

Mondovino, 2004

Mondovino is an Italian wine documentary about the impact of globalization on the world’s various wine regions. It primarily explores how wine-producing regions are affected by deforestation, corporations, and regional politics.

Red Obsession, 2013

An Australian production, Red Obsession is a collection of interviews with winemakers and wine enthusiasts from around the world. It addresses the idea of “status-minded overconsumption,” and raises concerns about the implications of the growing demand for wine.

Somm, 2013

Somm is in large part responsible for the recent resurgence of interest in the sommelier profession. It follows four candidates attempting to pass the notoriously difficult Master Sommelier exam. Tension builds as the would-be masters cram unearthly amounts of history, geography, and wine theory in their brains as the test looms ever closer. And the tension is understandable: check any Master Sommelier list and you’ll see the total number of folks awarded that distinction is less than 300. The film is critically lauded for turning the subject of wine tasting—something essentially unfilmable—into a compelling movie.

Barolo Boys, 2014

Barolo Boys is the story of a group of young winemakers from northern Italy who radically changed the world of Barolo wine throughout the 1980s and 90s. The film follows their technological innovations and the explosions of popularity that changed Barolo from a relatively obscure wine in the 1970s to one of the most sought-after reds today.

Somm: Into the Bottle, 2015

The sequel to Somm disengages from test takers and tells the story of wine by exploring the history and characteristics of 10 different bottles of wine. Each bottle opened in a different chapter of the film. The synopsis of the film, “Wine is simple. It’s about everything,” reflects the scope of the production. It aims to provide a foundational understanding of the many factors behind the creation of the world’s great wines. 

Somm 3, 2018

The third installment of the Somm franchise focuses on two individual wine tastings. One in New York City and one in Paris. In Paris, three notable sommeliers contribute bottles (wonder if they paid a corkage fee, hm?) to the tastings and taste them as they discuss wine and their careers. While in NYC, the wines are tasted and ranked before their identities are revealed. The film switches between the two settings.

Our Blood Is Wine, 2018

A filmmaker and a sommelier go on a mission to explore the resurgence of 8,000-year-old winemaking techniques and traditions in the country of Georgia in the Caucasus region. Ancient traditions and independent wine producers are visited during trips to all corners of the country, while the duo celebrate Georgian wine through the lens of history and culture.

Looking for a Sommelier Movie?

The Secret of Santa Vittoria, 1969

A classic film based on the Robert Crichton novel of the same name, The Secret of Santa Vittoria is set in Italy during WWII. A small winemaking community learns the occupying German forces want to steal all their wine and export it back to Germany. And they’re able to hide a million bottles of it.

Sideways, 2004

“Huh … that explains all the tannins.” Classic Sideways quote. If you’re interested in wine and you haven’t seen the Paul Giamatti, Sandra Oh, and Thomas Haden Church classic, something is wrong. Sideways is a hilarious look at a depressed wine-lover and his B-movie actor friend who take a roadtrip through California wine country. It’s ridiculous, it provides a unique perspective on wine enthusiasm, and even though it won't help you understand tannins in wine, you’ll like it.

Bottle Shock, 2008

Bottle Shock is based on the 1976 “Judgement of Paris,” when a wine from California defeated a French wine in a blind tasting. Back in the 1970s, the wine world was very much shaken by this. The film nicely captures how absurdly scandalous it must have felt.

You Will Be My Son, 2013

Another French film on the list! And not too dissimilar from the previous one, which shows a common thread in French winemaking culture: drama over the family business. Here a demanding winemaker father is upset at the prospect of his seemingly unimpressive son taking over the family vineyard.

Back to Burgundy, 2017

This French drama charts the reconnection of three siblings who reunite on their family vineyard when their father gets sick. Two of the kids are trained winemakers, while the third stayed away from the family business. 

Wine Country, 2019

Amy Poehler’s directorial debut follows a group of middle-aged women on a wine tasting tour in California. It’s a comedy, obviously, and involves a very sinister tarot card reading. Which always makes for good intrigue. If you’re a fan of Poehler and Tina Fey, then this one’s for you.

Enjoy the Show, Oenophiles!

Above, you’ll find a sommelier movie here and a sommelier documentary there. But these movies cover a broad range of topics and are for any wine enthusiast. From comedy and drama to history and journalism, wine looms large.

Watching these films will increase your understanding of the technical aspects of wine, the wine industry, the wine profession, and how wine is emotionally embedded in our cultures. Consider it preparation for your sommelier classes. Open a bottle, press play, and enjoy the ride.