We’ve Hit Peak ‘Sommelier’

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Good pour, great haircut.
Good pour, great haircut. Photo: Owen Franken/Corbis

There’s going to be a “hot-sauce sommelier” in Brooklyn. Funny. And, as others have pointed out, the news comes on the heels of Manhattan getting its very own mustard sommelier. It just sounds great: Sommelier. Plus, the word certainly has a more authoritative feel than enthusiast, expert, or sales clerk.

And that’s probably why so many people have thought to use it: There’s this water sommelier (and this water sommelier, who had the job way back in 2002), and here’s some Canadian commentary on the idea of a ketchup sommelier. There are beer sommeliers, of course, and some bartender somewhere probably calls himself a “cocktail sommelier.” There are sommeliers for juice and tea and Nespresso, too. Here’s a story about a “milk sommelier.” And here’s a #brand joking about a salsa sommelier. At this point, it’s only a matter of time until there’s a bone-broth sommelier.

With all these sommeliers running around, we’re getting dangerously close to artisan territory: Everyone starts using the word, it loses any actual meaning it has left, and before you know it fast-food chains have co-opted it for their ads. We’ve probably got like six months before Pizza Hut launches a campaign built around the idea of a sauce sommelier.

Please don’t let this happen. Sommelier is still fine the way it is, but if we don’t act now, we might just lose it forever. And if we do, what’s the hot-sauce sommelier supposed to call himself?