Oenologist, oenophile or sommelier?

2021 / 29 / 09
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Wine’s world has become very sophisticated since it was kept, during ancient Roman times, more than 2,000 years ago, in barrels for fairly immediate consumption. At present, wine and cava industry moves passions and is highly specialised. Professionals in the sector and restless noses move and intermingle in a world in which borders are increasingly blurred. For this reason, it will be very useful if you know how to differentiate between what an oenologist, an oenophile and a sommelier means. Your interlocutor will appreciate it and it may even be a perfect occasion to leave others astonished.


Of the three concepts, it’s the best known and the one with the longest history. Coming from French, since the 13th century, the sommelier was in charge of transporting and storing court supplies during their travels. This figure was specialised in different foods: bread, fruits, meats and drinks. His primary functions were expanded, in the field of fluid intake, to serve wine to the King or even act as a taster to avoid poisoning monarchs and their successors.

It was not until the beginning of the 19th century that the concept crystallised into the specialised professional in charge of drinks in restaurants. Its main functions are:

Manage the establishment’s winery and take care of its optimal storage and conservation.

Create the wine list and establish its pricing policy.

Offer the perfect pairing with each dish to be tasted by diners.

Present and serve the bottle optimally.

Without any doubt, is the figure who understands the most about wines and who, with his recommendations, will allow the explosion of organoleptic sensations to multiply when choosing the most appropriate option. The professional critic who will make your palate reach very, very high heights.

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We are in front of the professional in charge of the wine production; a specialist viticulture technician. His attributions include:

Activities, methods and techniques for growing vines and making wines.

Analysis of the products made.

Management of the storage and conservation of the bottles in the winery, prior to their distribution.

Bearing in mind the current legislation, the oenologist supervises the plantations, chooses the variety of grape to be used, manages the machinery, coordinates the irrigation periods, the ideal time to collect grapes, monitors the conservation and bottling of the liquid… Endless of tasks -halfway between chemistry and biology- to rely on much of the success in the production process. Each winery has workers focused on different areas, but the figure of the oenologist stands out above all of them. He stands as the person in charge of a great team that works from the grape harvest to the obtaining of the final bottled product.


We leave professional world to enter the field of hobbies. This term is coined to define wine lovers (and who have a high esteem for it). A passion that leads them to be informed of all the news concerning the world of wine: little-known wineries that are breaking into the market, the most exotic grape varieties, participate in training courses to expand their knowledge, learn about the most innovative techniques, utensils and accessories to get the best out of each bottle, etc.

It’s an individual who passionately transmits his knowledge and who enjoys any occasion to immerse himself in the reality of wines and cavas.

You will never again confuse these three concepts that, like a braid, will trap you in the world of wine. Regardless of whether you are in front of a sommelier, an oenologist or an oenophile, you will passionately feel the culture of our country through its vineyards.