17 September 2016

Weekend Cooking: Somm: Into the Bottle (Film)

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

Review: Somm: Into the Bottle (documentary)A couple of years ago, I wrote about the movie Jason Wise's Somm, a documentary that followed four men as they attempted to pass the master sommelier exam. In Wise's new film, Somm: Into the Bottle, we learn about wine from a different perspective.

This new documentary is self-described as presenting "10 stories about wine," and so it does, covering topics such as vintage, cost, and points. In each story, we learn to appreciate a different aspect of wine, wine making, and winemakers.

The film takes us to Europe, California, and Australia so we can develop an appreciation for some of the "hundreds of variables" that can affect how the wine is made and what it ultimately tastes like when it's finally poured into a glass.

Here are some of the things I learned:
  • Medieval monks fined-tuned wine, perfecting the process and making much better wine than the Romans did.
  • Vintages tell the story of the weather.
  • Some European vineyards have detailed records dating back several hundred years and some have remained in the same family for dozens of generations.
  • Review: Somm: Into the Bottle (documentary)The World Wars wreaked havoc on the grape fields of Europe, and soldiers raided wine cellars so some very old vineyards have no wines from before the late 1940s.
  • Wines from the New World (meaning everything outside of Europe) are exciting because they are not bound by tradition and by centuries-old laws.
  • The cost of wines can reflect the amount of hand-crafting (as opposed to machines) or may just be a factor of reputation and demand.
  • Wine is really made to drink, so enjoy it!
  • There's a huge divide when it comes to the use of new vs. old oak for aging wine.
  • The point system was originally conceived as a way to help consumers, but those numbers are so subjective that some people question their worth.
Fascinating stuff, but some of it was a little superficial. Okay, okay, I get that Somm: Into the Bottle was a documentary, not a wine class, but here are just a few things I wished I had learned:
  • Review: Somm: Into the Bottle (documentary)So I understand that vintages reflect the weather while the grapes were growing, but in what specific way? How exactly will a dry year or a cold year affect the stuff I pour into my glass?
  • Forget new or old oak, why oak in the first place?
  • If the point system is unreliable, then where should the novice (like me!) turn?
  • Robert Mondavi was indeed important for developing the California wine business, but I would have liked to have seen at least one other significant early winemaker from the region.
I really loved just watching this movie: The images and the cinematography were gorgeous. Somm: Into the Bottle is a beautiful film, from the panoramic shots of wine-growing regions to the dark, dank cellars far under ground. I loved the close-ups and the interesting angles. Plus the enthusiasm of the winemakers, the sommeliers, and others came shining through.

Recommendation? Somm: Into the Bottle is an enjoyable film for anyone who drinks wine or is interested in learning something more about the world of wine. Even if some of the subjects were treated a little superficially, the documentary increased my interest in trying new wines.


rhapsodyinbooks 9/17/16, 6:07 AM  

From the book "The Secrets of My Life" about the vintner behind Blue Nun, I learned that warmer weather makes forwines are increasingly higher in alcohol content. In addition, "High-alcohol wines often do not blend well with food; the alcohol tends to burn the mouth and palate.” So global warming is a big concern of vintners, according to him. I also learned that oak has the compound "vanillin" which adds a vanilla flavor to the wine, something I guess valued in white wines.

Mae Travels 9/17/16, 7:41 AM  

The two films you mention are very intriguing. You didn't say how you watched: it looks to me as if Somm: Into the Bottle is available for streaming on amazon.com, but not Netfilx. Or did you see it in a theater? And the first film Somm, appears unavailable for streaming at all.

Two books about wine extend several of the topics you mention -- "Wine and War" and "Champagne: How the World's Most Glamorous Wine Triumphed Over War and Hard Times" both written by Donald and Petie Kladstrup. They are both full of fascinating details about the wine makers and wine growers in France.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Tina 9/17/16, 7:56 AM  

Now that does sound like and informative and interesting film. Since we don't get cable or streaming or any of that I would probably get our library together it for me, or buy it! Looks like it's worth it 😀 Years back when we were buying more wine than we ought to I remember the year 2003 was called the "year of the sun" because of the weather conditions that year. And true enough, those were some of the best wines we had. To get my hands of a 2003 Pouilly Fuisse now would be a treat. But I'm not wine expert, I just know what I enjoy sipping.

Jackie McGuinness 9/17/16, 8:07 AM  

Unfortunately here in the province of Ontario we can only buy through the LCBO Liquor Control Board of Ontario. They are also heavily taxed so that some winemakers refuse to sell to the LCBO. We can buy those wines through their vineyards if they are making wine in the Ontario region. But if it is from another country and they choose not to sell to them then we are deprived from buying them.
I have also heard horror stories about the deplorable habits performed by the powers that be over the winemakers.
The LCBO is a bureaucratic, badly run government organization.
Have I ranted enough?

On the other hand, have you ever
watched the BBC TV series Michel Roux's Service which takes well-deserving young people and trains them to be sommeliers and servers in Michelin star restaurants?

Beth F 9/17/16, 8:09 AM  

@Mae -- actually I watched both movies through Netflix streaming. They are both available (at least to me) right now. I didn't mention how I watched because I'm not particularly interested in promoting a specific way to watch movies or a particular service. Also I don't know all the services and sites available to my readers in the USA or other countries.

Molly 9/17/16, 8:09 AM  

My son recommended both of these documentaries to me, and I found SOMM into the bottle more to my taste. I agree, there could be more detailed information, but oh... the cinematography :)

jama 9/17/16, 9:04 AM  

This documentary looks really interesting. Love the fascinating tidbits you shared. Will have to check it out!

Shaheen 9/17/16, 9:20 AM  

I enjoyed the trailer, didn't think I would be interested in wine making until I saw it...

Claudia 9/17/16, 12:09 PM  

I would love to watch, as you say, for the cinematography alone, but also enjoy learning more about wines. Luckily we do have an excellent wine shop here with a very knowledgeable, helpful owner, and he brings in such a great selection of vintages as well.

Vicki 9/17/16, 12:10 PM  

I think I'd enjoy the movies. I've never seen anything like them before.

Nan 9/17/16, 12:20 PM  

I may have said before, but I just can't seem to like wine. I can drink it in a restaurant before a meal, but not at home. I don't like the taste, and I've tried so, so many different kinds.

Deb in Hawaii 9/17/16, 12:34 PM  

Definitely adding Somm: Into the Bottle to my "to watch' list. I saw the first film Somm a while back and really enjoyed it. I am no expert, but I really like learning about wine, so this new film looks right up my alley. Thanks for sharing!

I linked up two book reviews and recipes this week. ;-)

Cecelia 9/17/16, 2:02 PM  

I'm like you, I think I'd really be interested in learning more in-depth information about how the weather affects wine!

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 9/18/16, 9:02 AM  

I like the passion that a winemaker has for the smallest details and their belief in what they do. It always seems to make a difference and it shows in the pride held for the finished product. Thanks for the recommendation. I look forward to seeing this film.

Heidenkind 9/19/16, 1:17 AM  

I totally agree. I really enjoyed watching this film. My favorite part was when people tasted rare vintages of wine — that's probably the closest I'll ever get to trying them! It did have some wide gaps and probably could have benefitted from having less "chapters" and taking a more focused look at just three or four aspects, but overall I was glad I watched it.

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