Day in the life of
Sommelier – Matt Woodburn-Simmonds
I get into work around 9.40 am, I start at 10, the first thing is espresso. There is usually a pile of wine deliveries waiting to be carried downstairs to the cellar, there is no lift, and I prefer to contemplate this task for a bit before starting.
After carting 100 bottles of wine to the cellar and putting them away, I check the wine fridges are all fully stocked up for lunch service. I’m supposed to do this the night before but sometimes I’m lazy and don’t. Once the fridges are stocked I’ll go and check on the waiting staff setting up the restaurant for lunch. If everything is under control I get my wine orders ready for those suppliers who deliver the next day, make sure I have enough of every wine by the glass to last the week, and that we’re well-stocked on champagne. I always keep 2 cases of house champagne buried in the cellar as an emergency stash, I’ve never run out, but it makes me feel better.
During lunch, wine service tends to be quite slow, with a few glasses here and there. Sometimes we get an “all-dayer” table who goes through a few bottles but it’s pretty rare. Generally, I’ll help the runners with simple tasks to keep everything moving smoothly when I don’t have much to do.
Once the lunch crowd has been packed away it’s time for another espresso, restocking everything that was used at lunch in the fridges and restaurant resetting for dinner service. Usually, I’ll get my break at around 4.30 pm, staff food is really good where I work, then it’s a quick 20-minute nap and back on the floor for 5.30 pm for the evening briefing and another espresso.
A full restaurant during dinner service keeps me a lot busier. A good mix of bottles, by the glass and wine pairings, keeps me moving at a “purposeful walk” pace. I have 17 tables to look after by myself and the kitchen will not wait for me to be ready before sending food.
I have a constant list of tasks that need done, organized by priority, in my head which endlessly updates as I get wine orders and the waiting staff informs me of tables needing their next matched wine. On a night like this, the nightmare scenario is actually the part of my job I love the most. A guest who is incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about wine and wants to dig into some of the more niche bottles on the list with full explanations and backstories. I don’t have time for this and I manage to convince him the second one he mentions is ideal for him, saving me maybe 5 crucial minutes.
As dinner service winds down I make a note of every bottle and glass sold so I can restock everything for the morning. I talk to the Chef about any notable bottles that were sold, I have a taste of a ’96 Burgundy for her from a nice gentleman who told me to have a taste.
Generally, I’ll finish up around 1 am, grab my staff sandwich, and head home. Tomorrow is another fully booked day and I need to be back in at 9.30 am to make sure everything is ready.
I (along with my wife, Katie) run the website Home Coffee Expert where we share information on all things coffee. My day job is as a Sommelier in a fine dining restaurant, wine is my first love and coffee is a close second.