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Tasting Notes: “SOMM”

Staff Writer
Austin 360

This Friday, the documentary “SOMM” debuts at Violet Crown Cinema. It’s a film about four beverage industry professionals training to pass the Master Sommelier exam.

In order to become a Master Sommelier, candidates must pass a three-day, three-part exam that’s proctored only once a year. A tiny percentage of people who take it succeed; only 186 international professionals have achieved this level of knowledge since the Court of Master Sommeliers was established in 1969 (Devon Broglie and Craig Collins, who passed their exams in 2011, live in Austin).

You can read my full review here on (subscription only). I gave it a B+.

One of the most fun and interesting parts of the film for me was listening to the Sommelier candidates describe the wines they tasted throughout the film. Some flavors and smells seemed natural, others totally outlandish.

On more than one occasion, I found myself sitting there thinking – how does he know the difference between crushed white flowers and fresh cut white flowers? And who knows what fresh tennis balls right out of the can taste like?! When it comes to wine, my vocabulary barely stretches beyond “earthy,” “dried fruit,” and “baking spices.”

Here’s a list of some of the more interesting terms they use in the movies. Next time you bust out a glass of red or white, see if you can pick out any of these flavors.

  • Lime candy
  • Smoked meat
  • Crushed apples
  • Under-ripe green mango
  • Grapefruit pith
  • Green pineapple
  • Crushed slate
  • Olive
  • Fresh cut white flowers
  • Crushed hillside
  • Freshly opened can of tennis balls
  • New rubber hose