Popping Bottles and Memorizing Flashcards

Uncorked captures the stress, skill and excitement that goes into preparing for a test only about 8 percent of folks pass. The new series follows six sommeliers preparing for the 2015 Master exam, which means lots of flashcards, small compe

If you frequent the Netflix documentary section — or if you’re just a veritable wino — you may have come across the excellent documentary Somm. The 2013 film looks at a group of wine stewards (aka sommeliers) studying for the Master Sommelier Exam, the highest designation in fine-beverage service, which requires a brutal test of wine service, knowledge and blind-tasting abilities.

The topic of Master Sommelier members and hopefuls is endlessly fascinating. Once a Master, the somm joins an elite group (only 230 individuals in the world have earned the distinction since 1969) and can go on to work in some of the finest hospitality establishments in the world. But getting there requires an obsessive commitment — and even with all that, many simply never pass. So it’s a perfect topic for the Esquire networks’ lineup of food and beverage-related viewing.

Uncorked (10 p.m. Tuesdays, Esquire) captures the stress, skill and excitement that goes into preparing for a test only about 8 percent of folks pass. The new series follows six sommeliers preparing for the 2015 Master exam, which means lots of flashcards, small competitions and endless bottles of vino.

If you can’t name a wine’s producer and vintage just by smelling it, don’t worry — the somms offer applicable tips and tidbits for casual wine enthusiasts, too.

This week the group heads to a national competition in Sonoma, Calif., and John tests his blind tasting skills with a Master Somm.

And because food and wine are best paired together — not to mention essential during this week’s holiday — check out Thanksgiving episodes of ABC comedies 8-9:30 p.m. Wednesday (The Middle, The Goldbergs, Modern Family) and 8:30-11 p.m. Thursday (Fresh off the Boat, The Middle, The Goldbergs, Last Man Standing, Dr. Ken).

WEDNESDAY 25

Inside the Actors Studio (8 p.m., Bravo) – Bryan Cranston sits down with James Lipton to discuss his acting career from Malcolm in the Middle to Breaking Bad.

Empire (9 p.m., Fox) – Rosie O’Donnell guest-stars as Cookie’s former cellmate while Alicia Keys plays a Pop star who collaborates with Jamal.

Saturday Night Live (9 p.m., NBC) – Thanksgiving- and food-themed skits from over the years.

FRIDAY 27

The Knick (10 p.m., Cinemax) – Thackery prepares to separate conjoined twins — before a full audience; Edwards finally gets his chance to shine in the operating room; Cornelia makes an appearance at the new Knick’s charity gala.

SUNDAY 29

The Leftovers (9 p.m., HBO) – Tom and Laurie have a falling out, prompting him to search for Meg, who plans her own pilgrimage to Miracle after experiencing loss.

The Walking Dead (Midseason Finale, 9 p.m., AMC) – Well, the Alexandrians are still stupid and walkers are pouring through the walls, but at least Glenn is alive! For now.

MONDAY 30

Superstore (Series Premiere, 10 p.m., NBC) – America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) and Ben Feldman (Mad Men) star in this new comedy following the employees and customers at a big-box store, the likes of which coincidentally begin to resemble the Walking Dead landscape this time of year.

Fargo (10 p.m., FX) – Hanzee hunts down Ed and Peggy; Dodd winds up in unfamiliar surroundings.

TUESDAY 01

Real Rob (Series Premiere, Netflix) – Rob Schneider’s answer to Louie ? OK, sure, why not?

CONTACT JAC KERN: [email protected] or @jackern


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