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Wine through Words – Translator vs Sommelier

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“Language is wine upon the lips”

Virginia Woolf

Translator and sommelier

Last spring, while finishing the last level of the sommelier course in Florence, I started thinking more and more about the links between wine, enology and translation. Through my translation activity, TradurreTranslate of Katarina Andersson, I had already translated web sites and other material about wine and food tourism, but I took it one step further to consider how I could combine the two worlds. Thus, my idea about mixing wine theory and translation and terminology in Italian/English (via the associations FISAR and AITI) in a sort of ABC course for sommeliers, wine enthusiasts and translators. The course became a success, in large part thanks to the professional organizational skills of FISAR. Words&Wine, which was the first course, continues in June 2014 with Words in the Winery, with the help of Helen Farrell. However, my aim is to further develop the concept for Scandinavian languages as well.

Wine as an experience

Wine and wine tasting is not only about a set of parameters to define a wine, as for the sommelier, but for a person in general it is an experience. An experience that we while attending a wine tasting or a tour in a winery, try and define with the help of words. For a wine producer, apart from translating with the aim to sell, it is also important to transmit the essence of the winery in words that fit with the drinking culture in other countries, at the same time as the wine experience and the passion comes through.

The essence of an association as Fisar is not only to provide courses to gain a diploma as sommelier, but to transmit a passion for wine and enology as well. The work as a translator is much about transmitting a meaning from one language to another, but can in my opinion become instrumental in transmitting not only meaning, but also an experience. For the translator such a joint venture is a great way to get a push out from the often standard tunnel vision. The result can be a mutual benefit where translators specialized in the wine and food sector, can open up and get out of their isolation, while professionals or clients in the wine business can benefit from the translator’s vast knowledge about formulation and presentation.

Added value

How can then a translator being also a sommelier, or specialised in enology, provide added value to a client in the wine business? Here are some examples, specifically regarding Scandinavian countries as end clients:

  • Understand the client’s background and products
  • Provide a background and knowledge of the wine industry in the target country
  • Translate documents and websites and provide general language assistance
  • Offer help in how to deal with state authorities in countries with a state monopoly for alcoholic beverages (for ex. Sweden)
  • Offer assistance in communcating with end client



Katarina Andersson

Seen often at wine events streaming live, Katarina is a wine writer, wine educator, social media strategist, and translator. She is the founder of WinesOfItaly LiveStream. She has been a guest at The Cellar, hosted by Richard Glover, at Wine Two Five, a podcast hosted by Stephanie Davis and Valerie Caruso, and at the Twitter chat #WiningHourChat founded by Li Valentine.

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