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 -eh part of the word is often transcribed as -ey in English, and it is similar as a sound, but is much softer in French, resembling -eh.