I start my day with two glasses of white wine, a cup of black coffee, and one boiled egg. 

“Detecting a medium-minus body, prickly acidity, a sharpness, tears and legs,” whispered into the full-length mirror. Always critical, always judgmental, never wavering. A master never falters in their craft.

If you believe the first bit of this article, I am glad you’re here. That’s a rip from a 1970s women’s diet guide with a sprinkle of sarcasm and self-deprivation. This is a day in the life.

I am a ‘young’ sommelier (I don’t feel young anymore, but I still fit the ‘Young Blood’ category for GFR’s profile, if you’re curious) in the nation’s capital, Ottawa. Every sommelier has a different growth experience. Mine is dynamic (read: I have imposter syndrome and feel the need to touch every facet in order to feel like a professional). I have been certified level 3 WSET since 2016, made wine in four different countries since 2017, and worked as a wine rep for an importer for two of those years. I also hold a degree in communications and another in digital marketing. Currently, I design the wine program at a small restaurant called Le Poisson Bleu, known for treating sustainable fish as one would red meat. As of today, I am also a professional writer.

We don’t (always) drink wine for a living. First off, we drink coffee for a living. Second, the closest career comparison I personally make to being a sommelier is a gallerist. The gallerist gathers artists that suit a style on their roster and display them in their gallery, and a sommelier gathers winemakers that suit an ethos and taste, serving them on their wine list. There are gallerists with poor taste just as there are sommeliers with poor taste. There are gallerists who change entire scenes or discover artists that define a generation. There are sommeliers that will change your views on wine, there are sommeliers that will help you discover something about wine that you never thought possible. There are sommeliers that will show you New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, again.

Why, they say there’s a wine for every occasion, so why not today? Together, we’re going to pair some genuinely stellar wine with the glamorous (but sometimes mundane) existence of being an everyday, local, small-scale sommelier.

8:00 AM

I wake up with my partner who does not work in the hospitality sector. He loves good food, I got him into natural wine (‘it’s juicy!’) but that’s about where it ends. I wake up with him because I found out during the pandemic that I am, in fact, a morning person. It also gives me a false sense of normalcy while working evenings. For this unwavering guilt, I would pair:

A small-scale local Piquette. What is Piquette? Piquette is “wine lite”. It is a low-alcohol wine made from the by-product of the wine press. It’s delicious, sessionable, and if you’re like Ned Flanders and you prefer a white wine spritzer, boy, do I have the brunch wine for you!

Trail Estate Piquette – They’re so good. Not only are they so good, but they include infusions with other flavours and make such a fun-to-sip product that is intentionally non-pretentious. There are four different varieties right now but their concord wines are famous so I expect that type to be sold out. Incredible for picnics, the beach, or the cottage.

Therianthropy Piquette – It comes in a smaller, 355ml can. Ripe raspberries, lime candy, and a hint of autumn leaves really make this Piquette pop and with less pressure than a full bottle. 

10:00 AM

Almost everything I do during the day is healthy (hot power yoga at the studio, vitamins, green tea) in an attempt to offset who I am at night. I make some black coffee for myself and my partner and prep a lunch that is almost always a brown rice bowl of some type. I usually start getting work texts, emails, and phone calls around this time. Mondays/Tuesdays these emails are usually a flood of updates for all the importers I work with (10-15 portfolios that carry between 20-150 wine producers, each of which has between one and 20 wines under their wing). Sommeliers are expected to sift through all of these new releases and updated stock lists and decide what works with the wine program in the coming weeks. This includes budgeting, costs, storage, inventory, and knowing that what you are buying works with the menu/restaurant and that it will sell. This all happens before lunch. For the hustle and bustle of being professionally social online at 10 am, I would pair:

Mid-morning pairing – More black coffee, matcha, or classic green tea. If that starts to make your heart flutter might I suggest a nicer flutter that comes from rosé pet nat! ‘Pet Nat,’ short for pétillant naturel is the oldest method of making sparkling wine. It goes from juice to wine in the bottle, leaving it unfined, unfiltered, and unbothered. Usually juicy and often on the lower tier of alcohol levels (not always, don’t quote me), it’s a great mid-morning pick-me-up.

Benjamin Bridge makes incredible wine. Did you know that Benjamin Bridge is in none other than Nova Scotia?! Nova Scotia is an underrated wine scene in Canada but they are making some heavy-hitting beauties. They single-handedly got me to reconsider sweeter wines in the dining room with their famous Nova 7. I was going to suggest only their gorgeous rhubarb-thyme-wild strawberry palette rosé pet nat, but what-the-hey, let’s also suggest the orchard blossom-jasmine tea Nova 7 as well. Both are unique and exciting experiences to perk you up.

12:00 PM

It’s lunch. I made two rice bowls. I get an hour to actually hang out with my partner before I run off and ‘start’ my day. He works remote, and that might be a huge reason that our relationship functions in separate industries. Often those in hospitality end up with others in hospitality because of our *extremely* healthy relationship with boundaries, substances, and late nights. On Mondays, I go to the chiropractor. I pay unholy amounts of money to keep my spine from reverting back to its former mess that I acquired from working such a physical job all these years (so far, so good).

On a lighter note, if I’m feeling really cheeky, I’ll go out for lunch at a nearby spot that I adore. The staff are all friends of mine and I usually go alone to work on menu designs and eat nachos. Like many sommeliers, I have a couple of jobs at the restaurant. Since I have a degree in another complementary craft, I adopted a second role in our restaurant: marketing manager. This includes menu formatting and design, managing social media accounts, helping promote/engage events, and some photography. The wine I would pair with gochujang rice bowls, veggie nachos, and extremely basic graphic design is:

Podere Cellario ‘Il Barrusco’. I guess it’s another pet nat but it’s red pet nat. It’s a more savoury, deep, and inky pet nat using Barbera and Neretto grapes. Rosemary, blackberries, juniper, and structured tannin. If my local (it’s called The Third) has it in stock, that’s what I’ll have with any lunch dish. 

3:00 PM

I’m at work early. I’m almost always at work early because I have so many things that need to get done (specifically on Wednesdays, because that’s the first day of the restaurant’s week as we are closed Monday/Tuesday) before I even think about physically opening the restaurant. I have a budget meeting with my boss, put any delivered wines away, confirm and print menus for the week, and then begin opening. By 3:45pm, I am likely mopping the floor and cleaning the bathrooms, and that gets me thinking about our next pairing:

I daydream a lot about traveling and winemaking during the 1.5 hours it takes for me to open the restaurant. Naturally, my mind wanders over to a few regions I worked in. Still, my favourite (if you can get your hands on it) is 2Naturkinder. They work with that zero/zero lifestyle (read: no sulfites, no additives, very nice to the land) but with the experience level of Michael Voelker, a 13th (or so) generation winemaker. An untouchable leader, winemaker, and all-around lovely human being. What I would do to bask in the morning Franconian sun right now. Who thought anyone would ever pine for the German sun?


I have a favourite. 2Naturkinder’s Weinschwärmer is a macerated Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris/Grigio) and riesling, evoking beautiful peachy notes, structured tannin, and vibrant acidity. I always say (and you can fight me but) pinot gris *always* benefits from a bit of skin contact. It’s such a basic grape when striped from its skins. On them? Multidimensional. I remember the moment I tried this wine for the first time. I’d had 2Naturkinder before (there was a reason I was in Germany in the first place) but this wine in particular. I remember deadpanning Michael when I tasted it during harvest dinner. A moment of surreal. This wine pairs perfectly with the ongoing state of daydreaming.

5:00 PM

We have opened. Usually, our opens are a bit quiet which is a nice cozy start. I say cozy because we are consistently busy. I am extremely grateful for this. However, a moment to breathe between finishing the open and guests arriving is always welcome. I take a section, which isn’t always the case for sommeliers. Some of us manage but do not take a section during service. Personally, I like to be present for servers to use me as a tool and for guests to get an immersive experience with not only our unique food but our very adventurous wine list. Although I don’t condone drinking before service, I do condone revelling in a moment of calm. To pair with that small moment before guests arrive, might I suggest:

Bubbles. I think sparkling wine is meant for being calm, on vacation, or for celebration. Busy wine, chill mind. Sometimes I like to drink something refined but unfussy, and for this, I would suggest some sparkling wine from two regions: Penedès and Emilia-Romagna (or Lombardy). There’s a surprising amount of gorgeous value bubbles for everyday calm. A couple in my repertoire are Alta Alella’s ‘Mirgin’ Gran Reserva Cava and Podere Il Saliceto ‘Albone’ Lambrusco (for those deep, inky, red bubbles).
Alta Alella is so crisp and genuine in its palate. It’s almost as though you are licking the inside of an oyster shell that has a hint of lemon left on it. It is uncomplicated and luxurious all at once.

Lambrusco lost a bit of traction in the past few years (but definitely seeing a resurgence!). It felt a bit unfashionable when I started pouring it by the glass in our restaurant. I insisted guests try it when they were set on ‘one glass of wine for the meal’ because Lambrusco is one of the most food-friendly wines I have ever encountered. Each Lambrusco is very different. Some can have notes of pine forest, figs, and prunes, while others lean more toward tart cherry, chalk candy, and mint. I have no preference, but it does depend on my mood. Podere Il Saliceto ‘Albone’ mixes the two, and you get the breeze of coniferous with the punch of red cherry, a hint of rosemary, and sage. You can enjoy Lambrusco with oysters, steak, pizza, and even dessert. I cannot speak highly enough of this style of wine for apero, dinner, or digestif.

9:00 PM

Every reserved guest is in, and they are likely enjoying mains, tucking into dessert, or sipping a digestif. This wind down is often welcomed by staff enjoying an end-of-shift pint or glass of wine for our hard work. Hospitality is very physically demanding, and we often feel we deserve that nightcap. If you are trying to avoid that nightcap, good luck. It’s hard to say no when you’ve been proverbially acting on-stage for several hours. If you do manage to say no, you might just head home for a late dinner, a good night’s sleep, and an anxious reflection of forgetting table 13’s charred jalapeños when you should’ve noticed they were missing. That last bit certainly never happened. Certainly. The wine I would pair with a successful performance this evening:

Do you have a comfort wine? Because now is the time. Tired? Your favourite red wine by the glass. Ready to go out? Rosé (it’s go-go juice ok?). Still, my ultimate pairing for the end of the night? A *good* vermouth on ice served with an olive and an orange or lemon twist. Orange if it’s dark vermouth, lemon if it’s white vermouth. Favourites? Casa Mariol, Cocchi, or Balthazar vermouths. They all have a line of several styles so you’ll just have to try them all. I know, so hard.

12:00 AM

If I’m lucky, my partner is still awake and wants to watch at least one episode of Ghost Adventures with me. What started as an ironic joke, watching Ghost Adventures has become the highlight of the evening (it is one of the most chaotically funny reality shows on television, do yourself a favour and tune in). If he is not awake (and I’m very awake) I will sometimes stop at a late-night bar near our apartment with a colleague and have some wine and snacks. This is a fun but bad habit that I allow only a few days a month now.

If I do go out after work, I have a hilarious trick to keep me from ‘going hard’. I usually take a small CBD capsule as soon as I know we’re going out. This guarantees I will become extremely sleepy within the next two hours and will want to go home. Gotcha brain! Now we need to sleep. I take these capsules because finishing work between 9-11 pm is, unfortunately, almost the same feeling as finishing work at 5 or 6 pm. You still need to wind down after work, probably eat, and then fall asleep. This takes a few hours after work whether you like it or not, which means if you aren’t careful you will be awake until 2 or 3am. As a morning person, this is a curse. If you do not partake in Canada’s beautiful legal cannabis products, might I suggest another glass of wine before bed?

As a parting gift today, this is my last suggestion: Champagne. Grower Champagne, to be exact. I’m sure you’ve heard this term before, but if not, grower champagne is produced by the same estate that owns the vineyards, rather than buying grapes from outsourced growers. My absolute favourite is Lelarge-Pugeot. Their family has been in Vrigny for over 200 years growing and producing some of the best champagne I have ever tasted. On top of all this, they care for a bee farm on their land and became Demeter certified biodynamic in 2017. To describe the classic Tradition Extra Brut, I get bruised golden and green apples, bee pollen on the nose, and lemon curd, pound cake on the palette. It’s an experience in its own right, and it’s deserved at the end of such a long day that you’ve joined me for. 

Each day brings new challenges and surprises, we work tirelessly to give the best experience and evoke emotions in each glass. We place wine on the same pedestal as we place food and laughter. I’d like to thank you for joining me in the daily existence of a sommelier working for your local neighbourhood restaurant. It is a labour of love. We love to share, host, and orchestrate a sort of nostalgia when you visit.

Here’s to you, cheers.