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Here’s what it’s really like to drink wine for a living

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Hannah Keegan
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Work/Life is Stylist’s regular column about the professional routines of successful women. Meet Laure Patry, global sommelier.

Laure Patry, 39, is the executive sommelier at The Social Company and the general manager of Social Wine & Tapas. She lives in east London.

My alarm goes off…

At 8.30am. I jump straight out of bed and make a coffee. Then, I’ll look over the restaurant’s log books from the night before to see what sold well and how much we made. I’m a uniform dresser and wear jeans and a white T-shirt from Massimo Dutti most days. I leave at 9am and pick up a croissant on the way to work.

I’m responsible for… 

Everything relating to the wine at The Social Company’s 16 restaurants around the world. I oversee everything from creating the wine list in each restaurant to hiring the sommeliers. I also manage Social Wine & Tapas, where I’m in charge of a team of four sommeliers.

Laure has to know each wine’s backstory and flavour profile

I got the job…

By studying wine. I grew up in France’s Loire Valley, where I went to culinary school and later wine school. During this time, I moved to North Yorkshire for a year to work in a restaurant and practise my English. I returned to the UK to work for Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s as a sommelier. I met chef Jason Atherton when I moved to Maze and when he left to start The Social Company, I went with him. He gave me Social Wine & Tapas as my own project.

My typical day…

Sees me arrive at the restaurant at 9.30am. I check the bookings for the day and make the table plan. Then, I have a briefing with all the restaurant staff – we go through any VIPs that are coming in and I give everyone a section of the room to work. I’ll talk about the wines we’re pushing – I’ll give the waiters each wine’s backstory and things to highlight about its taste.

Our chef makes us all a staff lunch at about 3pm. In the afternoon, I might meet with a wine producer. We have over 900 wines on the list and it’s constantly changing. One of my favourites at the moment is a 2016 Jauma chenin blanc from McLaren Vale in Australia. It’s natural, low-sulphur and it tastes more alive because there are no chemicals masking its flavour.

Besides overseeing the restaurant, I’m usually working on new launches with The Social Company. I travel every couple of months, either to visit independent wine producers or to begin working on a new restaurant I gather teams of sommeliers and create the restaurants’ wine lists. They’re all different depending on the style of the restaurant. For example, if it’s Michelin-starred, I know we’ll need a good range of champagne and burgundy. If it’s more relaxed, I can include more independent producers. I have to think about things like the country’s humidity and wine storage too. I leave work at about midnight.

My most memorable work moment…

Is when Social Wine & Tapas opened. It was my own project, so it felt really personal.

There are over 900 wines on offer at Social Wine & Tapas

The worst part of my job…

Is finding a team you can stick with. It’s hard to train people for them to leave two years later, but London is so fast.

The best part of my job…

Is tasting the wine. I still love it when we get a new delivery.

After work…

I give myself some time to relax before going to sleep. I usually make a salad and watch BBC News 24. I’m asleep by 2am. 

Images: Holly McGlynn

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Hannah Keegan

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