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Tuesday 6 February 2024

Are sommeliers on the nose with wine drinkers?

A good sommelier is a gift from the heavens.

A warm welcome, an insider wine tip. Good somms can turn a good evening into a great night.

But it seems that the current generation of somms are not resonating with restaurants guests as their predecessors did.

Earlier this week, I posted a tongue-in-cheek piece about whether AI bots could replace flesh-and-blood wine operatives.

To my surprise, my social media feeds got a lot of anti-somm feedback. Particularly in Australia.

"How how will it [AI] maintain the wankerisms and condescending manner?" asked one wine industry insider.

From a very well travelled international journalist: "I suppose as long as the AI version doesn't look down at you and shake his or her head disdainfully, I'm OK with it!"

And more, this time from another wine industry pro.

"...try and sell you some jarringly dry, over-phenolic, cloudy, fruitless muck just because they're obsessed with natural wines and like to pretend several thousand years of winemaking evolution hasn't happened."


I, too, have been the victim of somms trying to convince me to drink "orange" wines despite my stated aversion to them.

Some for some looking in the mirror, maybe, for some somms. 

You are there to help the customer find a drink he or she will enjoy, not to act as an Alice Feiring-style evangelist for undrinkable drinks.

Image: Maksim Chernyshev,

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