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Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
Everyone seems to butcher the pronunciation of Sémillon. Wine Spectator is showing it as "sem-ih-yon." Another source has it as "sa'-mill-yun." Is there one correct way? Surely there would be.
—Bobbie, Safety Harbor, Fla.
I took a poll of Wine Spectator tasting and editorial department folk, and the most popular response was "sem-ee-yon," another version of the same pronunciation on our website, "sem-ih-yon." Most of us feel that this rendering is closest to the French pronunciation, and Sémillon is a French word (from the Old Provençal semilhar, which means "to sow," which itself comes from the Latin semen, which means "seed"—you in the back, stop giggling).
A few other variations are used (and accepted). While the French would never pronounce the "ll" like the the "l" in "lemon," some say "se-mi-lon" or "sem-uh-lon."
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