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.
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."