What does a sommelier do? Most people would imagine that we regularly drink high-priced wines while wearing fancy suits, and that we have no other responsibilities at all. To shed some light onto this unusual profession I’ve decided to begin this “Day in the Life” series.
A sommelier isn’t a solo actor, but part of a team that includes everyone working in the establishment: chefs, runners, waiters, bartenders, receptionists and managers.
Below is a short list of what my duties include, and this is far from comprehensive:
- Clean any wine display cabinets
- Unlock any locked wine cabinets that will be used
- Fill up ice buckets (for anyone who orders white or sparkling wines
- Polish glassware and decanters
- Understand food menu items
- Take trays of drinks to tables
- Run food when waiters/runners are occupied
- Display/open/decant/serve wines for tables
- Refill wine glasses on all tables
- Discuss wine selection with guests
- Take dirty glassware away for cleaning
- Restock wine cabinets from cellar
- Restock cellar with new incoming shipments
- Empty ice buckets (ice will have melted after service)
- Lock up wine cabinets
- …and finally, close to midnight, you can go home and plant your face into a pillow.
And this is in addition to self-study and keeping one’s wine knowledge up-to-date, so hopefully this brief list will give you some insight into the level of multitasking that a sommelier needs to exercise. Love of wine is not enough – one needs dedication, patience and respect for the profession as a whole.
For me, working as a sommelier has been extremely rewarding. I have great colleagues, a supportive team, and our guests are polite and sociable (although there may be the occasional snob). I feel proud and privileged to be able to work in such an environment.
That’s not to say it’s without it’s challenges – I’ll save those for a later post.
Read more: Somms, Critics and Robots