French word to indicate a wine professional who specializes in wine service and pairing food and wine. A sommelier must know about grape varieties and regions of wine production and know about the restaurant beverage industry.
The word sommelier derives from the Old Provençal word saumalier, which was a pack animal driver. In French, bête de somme, which means beast of burden, an animal that carries a load or pack for the benefit of a human. Somme literally means pack in French and sommelier then referred to the man leading the beast who carried the pack. Sommelier eventually came to refer specifically to wine because often the animals would carry wine.
The correct pronunciation of sommelier in French can be phonetically transcribed as Soh-muh-lee-eh.
The first syllable in sommelier, -soh, is pronounced, with an "oh" sound that is slightly closed and is pronounced by pursing your lips. The second syllable, which contains an "e" is actually pronounced with an "uh" sound, making it -muh. The third syllable, "li", contains an "i", which in French is pronounced as a long "e", which means it is pronounced as an "ee" sound.
The final syllable of the word, -eh, is often transcribed as -ey in English but this would actually be a mispronunciation. While the two sounds can be similar, it is actually pronounced much softer in French, like when you say "eh". A good way to learn how to pronounce that final syllable in sommelier is to take the "ey", and divide it into two syllables, eh-ee and then only pronounce the first one.