What a beautiful word, whether in print or on the tongue. Put simply: an expert who understands, appreciates, discerns and can, therefore, judge the subtleties of something with artistic merit. Most often, the term is associated with the gastronomic pursuits of food and wine, but you don’t have to limit yourself to that specific use.
See also: cognoscenti.
Example: As a life-long connoisseur of fine silk fabrics from around the world, the elder decorator was asked to help curate the museum’s retrospective exhibit on Japanese textiles.