A typical day on the floor as a sommelier starts at about 10.30am. I arrive, get changed into uniform and gather the tools of the trade (corkscrew, pen, writing pad, crumber), check to see if any wine orders have arrived, double-check the vintage on the new stock, and make sure it's put away. Then I check the wine lists - are all copies accounted for? They're clean, with no wine stains? Perhaps a page needs updating if there's a vintage change from orders that have arrived. Next a briefing with the chef, managers and floor staff. What are the daily specials the kitchen is serving? Are there any items that are 86'd (out of stock)? The manager tells the staff whether there are any VIP diners expected that day and of any special requests by guests, so everyone is aware of what's happening. After the briefing, there's time for the staff to grab a quick bite to eat - the chef and his team provide a light meal, usually rice with a stir-fry of vegetables and meat. Back on my feet, I do a quick run through the room to see if everything is where it should be - glasses, decanters, wine menus, coasters. Lunch guests start to arrive. Approaching a table, wine list in hand, I ask, 'A glass of wine today with lunch, madam?' 'No thank you, just some warm water please.' The next table is asked the same question and this time the response is, 'Mineral water, please - sparkling.' Again: 'No thanks, it's too early, I have to go back to work.' Diners at the other tables give similar answers. I'm beginning to feel like I'm in the wrong business, and then: 'Yes, what a great idea! What do you have by the glass?' A quick look at the list, and the guest orders a glass of chardonnay with his steak, saying that red wine at lunch is too heavy. It's not the best wine match, but it's a start. Lunch service is over, the glasses are washed, polished and put away. Now it's time to work on the wine list - perhaps some ordering, or attending a trade tasting, which is always fun for catching up and seeing what fellow sommeliers are doing in their respective establishments. Often there's a meeting with a supplier to discuss new listings or to plan an event or dinner to be hosted by a visiting winemaker. If I'm really lucky, I'll have a break and I can pop out for a few hours and go to the gym or run some errands. Back again for evening service at 5.30pm, and we're ready to go after checking in with the chef, maitre d' and other staff. I make a quick trot around the room to make sure everything is in place. There's not much to do before guests start to arrive, so the early evening is usually spent helping out in the bar with cocktails (you never know - someone might order a bottle of champagne to celebrate a special occasion). Prime time is from 7.30pm onwards. As guests are seated in the room for dinner, the pace picks up. First table - my wine list in hand, again. Questions are answered about the menu, the table places an order and I suggest an reasonably priced wine that would go with what has been chosen. 'Oh, no thanks, we don't drink wine.' The next few tables are much more interesting, a few glasses here and there. One guest has brought in his own wine but would like it decanted. All of a sudden, it seems, the room is full, people are ordering wine, and I'm dashing from table to table, juggling bottles and glasses to make sure everyone's got a glass in front of them. Before I know it, it's almost the end of the evening. There's a sea of glasses in the back waiting to be polished, but if I'm lucky, one of the guests has left me a sip of something to savour while I work. Nellie Ming Lee is a freelance food stylist and part-time sommelier, and is studying with The Court of Master Sommeliers. firstname.lastname@example.org .