The Secret Sommelier

Illicit snogs, blocked bogs and wine snobs: the unglamorous life of a top sommelier

From special wines for wives and lovers to the Premier Cru that brings in the big spenders, our anonymous secret sommelier spills the Burgundy on the late-night antics of the restaurant industry

Monday 03 July 2023 16:49 BST
For bankers and lawyers, I order bottles that are lovely to drink and mostly overpriced
For bankers and lawyers, I order bottles that are lovely to drink and mostly overpriced (Getty Images)

It is 10.30pm and I have my hand inside the toilet. There are two bin bags and a marigold glove between me and the contents of the toilet – but it’s a toilet nonetheless. It’s the same toilet I dry-heaved into at eleven o’clock this morning after a long night in Soho with a journalist of ill-repute.

In the last hour I have sold a few thousand pounds’ worth of wine, been snogged sloppily on the neck by a customer, in front of his mother, and now I am here – elbow deep in the loo – trying to locate and retrieve whatever’s blocking it. In all honesty, I’m quite relieved to be here. The toilet is dark, and cool, and quiet. It smells incredibly good in here because of an endless supply of badly branded and absurdly expensive scented candles called things like “Hazy Kush” and “Boyfriend’s Bedsheets”. I didn’t tell anyone I was leaving the restaurant floor to do this, so nobody knows where I am. I can hear someone in the corridor asking after me. They say something about wine and then ask again, their tone becoming increasingly anxious and annoyed. It’s not been a good service. They are, to use an industry term “in the s***”, but then again, so am I.

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