Sommelier. For many, the word evokes images of a long-held cultural stereotype: A sniffing French man sent to restaurants tables to shame guests into choosing an expensive wine they don’t particularly want and won’t enjoy. Saw-mill-eeeeeaaaahhhhr. The word sounds crusty, reminiscent of a medicated balm one might employ for an obscure skin disease.
But for others, a sommelier is the very definition of refinement, elegance and hard-won knowledge; a figure of wisdom for whom tired considerations like gender and race do not apply. Saw-mill-eeeeeaaaahhhhr is a mellifluous honey-tinged word uttered by sophisticated, just-this-side-of-buzzed globalized urbanites.