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Au pif (Quebec, 2014)
The life of a wine sommelier can be nerve-wracking. To get to the top of her profession – #2 in the world, in fact, at the 2013 World's Best Sommellier Competition in Tokyo – Quebecer Véronique Rivest sampled six bottles a day, six days a week, 50 weeks a year. Follow her on her journey in this hour-long documentary by Bachir Bensaddek and Orlando Arriagada and discover just how gruelling a task being a serious wine geek can be. You have to have the nose for it, but also the studies and the travels and the discipline to know when to swallow and when to spit. Now co-owner (with her husband) of Soif, a new wine bar in Old Hull, Rivest comes across in the film as a fastidious, calculating woman with a gift for the gab and a desire to please and be known. It's only near the end that we learn she also has two teenage kids, but they almost seem peripheral to her real passion: wine. (If the subject interests you, there's another race-to-the-top wine competition documentary you should see: Somm. It's a funny if somewhat pathetic look at the desperate oneupmanship that prevails in the mostly male world of professional sommeliers. The film can be streamed on Amazon Prime)
Au pif airs Dec. 16 at 9 p.m. on TV5, and again Dec. 17, 20 and 23.