How do you pronounce "Sémillon"?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

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.

Dear Bobbie,

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."

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

Is it OK to brush my teeth before tasting wine? Does toothpaste change the way wine tastes?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert Dr. Vinny explains why brushing your teeth and wine …

Sep 26, 2022

What’s the difference between Hermitage and Ermitage? Are they the same wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains what the H is going on with Hermitage vs. …

Sep 19, 2022

When traveling, are any wines more or less susceptible to bottle shock than others?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the phenomenon of "bottle shock" and how to …

Sep 12, 2022

What’s the best way to remove a crumbly wine cork? I’ve tried everything!

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers tips for extracting crumbly corks, and how to …

Sep 7, 2022

What’s the difference between Petite Sirah and Syrah?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains that Syrah and Petite Sirah have quite a bit in …

Aug 29, 2022

I have about 50 bottles of wine. Should I buy a wine fridge?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers advice for when to upgrade your wine storage at …

Aug 22, 2022