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Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the…

Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big… (edition 2017)

by Bianca Bosker (Author)

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268776,320 (4)3
A tech reporter describes her introduction to the world of master sommeliers and her in-depth investigation into the source of their interests and skills, an effort marked by work with elite tasting groups, encounters at exclusive New York restaurants, visits to California winemakers and more.--
Title:Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste
Authors:Bianca Bosker (Author)
Info:Penguin Books (2017), 352 pages
Collections:Your library

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Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste by Bianca Bosker


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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Ever since I watched Somm on Netflix, I've been fascinated by sommeliers. The amount of work and dedication needed to become a Master is nothing short of crazy. While the movie Somm focuses mostly on the test for those already experienced, Cork Dork follows a path from pure curiosity to career.

For those who want to "break in" to the wine world, it's no small task. It's painted as completely unrealistic to do it on your own, unless you happen to have a few million extra dollars lying around. Instead, the way to do it is to get a job at a restaurant with a notable wine list and use every chance you have to start tasting wines and learning.

The process that upcoming somms go through is far more painful than I thought. Restaurant work aside (which has it's own issues), trying to do that while ALSO becoming a master in taste, service and knowledge is something I'm good not pursuing – but hats off to people who make it their calling.

If nothing else, I got better tips on how to speak to somms as a drinker to communicate what I'm looking for. ( )
  adamfortuna | May 28, 2021 |
I love food--eating food, making food, reading about food. So it is not unheard of that I would give a five-star rating to a food memoir. but it IS surprising that my first five star foodie book would be about wine. I am NOT a huge wine fan. But I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, and how much it made me think, and discuss with others after I finished. So after some soul searching I upped my star rating from four to five.

As mentioned, I love food, and love food memoirs. But I am skeptical of books in the "I am taking a year to do this completely random thing, and hey look I wrote a book about it" genre. (I completely admit that the skepticism comes in large part from jealously...why can't I get a book contract for doing some ridiculous thing that I am not an expert in, just for the heck of it??) So I was surprised by how much I liked this book. The author begins the book by noting, "I am obsessed with other people's obsessions," and I completely agree...I love getting deep into the details of an esoteric topic that others build their lives around, and understanding that passion. And she does a great job of bringing that passion to life in the world of wine. It annoyed me (and presumably annoyed her new 'cork dork' somm buddies) that she just sweet talked her way into all the experiences that people who have been training as sommeliers spend years working towards, but it did make for interesting reading. You could almost see the diagram of her storytelling as she built up and up and up on the esoteric knowledge and practices (blind tasting clubs multiple days a week to be able to recognize the grape, the year, and the vineyard of any bottle?) needed to become a somm, cresting at the denouement of weaseling her way into La Paulee, the impossible-to-get-into-wine dinner which costs $1500 AND is BYOB, where the richest of the rich wine aficionados taste thousand dollar bottles all night long. Then rides the crest straight down by having the very next chapter be about commercial wine development, taking the reader through all the well-known brands (that they probably regularly drink...Sutter Home, yellowtail, etc) that all stem from a few large producers and which are taste controlled by the wonders of chemical add-ins, to remind you that even though you have gotten swept up in the story and have begun to believe that the wine madness could be part of normal behavior, the average human has a long way to go to get anywhere near an understanding of good wines (even though "good" can apparently easily be found around the $50 price point). Then she throws me (and all the other jealous readers) a bone and shows us that she isn't born under a lucky star, as she talks her way into a top tier somm serving competition, and falls flat on her face.

Spoiler alert--the author began her journey with the goal of taking and passing the Certified Sommelier Exam, the first level required to be officially recognized as a sommelier. Many sommeliers work their way up in the industry for years before attempting the exam, and fail multiple times before they succeed. But luckily she had nothing to do for an entire year other than prepare, and despite her challenges in the serving department, she passes on her first try. And seemingly within minutes (from one chapter to the next), she parlays this success into a job as a sommelier at Terroir, an NYC wine bar named as one of the best in the world, run by a James Beard winner. Because of course she does. The chapter on her work as a somm seems to be written by a completely different person, as if pinning the "certified sommelier" crest on her shirt flipped a switch, and now she talks and thinks just like the somms she shadowed for research earlier in the book. It is a strange contrast, and possibly my least favorite part of the book. But she does it with a different perspective than her mentors (Terroir is known for being avant-garde in its thinking about what makes a great sommelier or a great wine), and despite my annoyance, it still left me thinking and discussing with others.

In the style department, as mentioned, you can almost diagram her writing pattern in your head, and she pits one contrasting chapter against another, which is a great talent. Another small stylistic note I really appreciated--she exclusively uses female pronouns for the generic, e.g "Any somm worth her salt..."

In short (or long), I highly recommend this book. ( )
  sanyamakadi | Nov 20, 2020 |
Highlights, in part unconsciously, much pretension, self-deception and just plain bullshit in the wine industry, and perfectly illustrates that the more pointless the occupation, the more rigid it's rules and customs. ( )
  mike.wallace | Mar 20, 2020 |
Subtitle: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste

Bosker was a “technology reporter covering the Googles and Snapchats of the world” when a dinner out with her boyfriend resulted in an encounter with a sommelier that piqued her interest in this unusual career choice. First, she became obsessed with research, then she started tasting, and before long she was intent on mastering the art and passing the certification exam. This is the memoir of her eighteen months on that quest.

I picked up the book only because it’s a selection for my face-to-face book club. And I was not eager to read it. But Bosker’s writing pulled me in. She’s funny and irreverent, and also entertaining and informative. Still, I found much of it repetitive and I’d put it down for a day or two with little enthusiasm for picking it up again.

Just not my cup of tea (or glass of wine), I guess. ( )
  BookConcierge | Mar 29, 2018 |
Do you like wine? I like wine. Do like a well researched book with an engaging writing style, entertaining stories plus a hearty dose of clear and informative information? I found this book to be all of those things….but again, I like wine so I was interested in this journey.

Bianca Bosker introduces herself:

“I am a journalist by training and a type-A neurotic by birth, so I started my research the only way I knew how: I read everything I could get my hands on, carpet-bombed sommeliers’ in-boxes, and showed up at places uninvited, just to see who I would meet.”

I liked this woman immediately. Type-A style is fascinating to me as I am such a laid-back type-B that I would never, ever dream of tackling anything with this sort of drive and passion. It’s over-drive! She never quits. Impressive.

Quote from the first chapter:

“When you inform your friends and relatives that you have left your stable job as a journalist to stay home and taste wines, you will begin to get concerned phone calls. You say: I’m going to hone my senses and find out what the big deal is about wine. They hear: I’m quitting my job to drink all day and improve my chances of ending up homeless.”

As you move through the book you are taking this journey with Bianca Bosker. Please remain seated……….The details and dedication of becoming a sommelier is daunting. It’s their job to help select a wine appropriate for the meal and the guests’ tastes all the while making money for the restaurant. The markup is very significant when it comes to wine and beverages.

But the tasting sessions they live for, the money they spend, the endurance and tolerance for so. much. wine.……it’s a journey. It’s a journey I personally would not be up for with the expense and my non-discriminating palate, never mind being kind to my liver. I buy wine because I like having it with dinner.

As mentioned in the book, “Marketing will get you to buy a wine once. Sensory will get you to buy it twice.” Take a look at the bottles I have posed with the book – these are not high priced wines, the most expensive one being $22 which I wanted to try. Sometimes I try a wine based on a review or because I am intrigued by the label (marketing) but I will buy it over and over again for the taste and pleasure (sensory).

chablis This Chablis was a new one for us and we very much enjoyed it. If you like the mineral taste in a wine, a Chablis is a good pick. We had this with grilled Tile Fish and when the last of the bread and cheese was finished, I was sad the wine was also gone.

With no common sense we promptly opened a bottle of Chardonnay. I’m pleased to say we only had a small glass and saved the rest. The Chablis was the better of the two wines and we would certainly buy it again.

This book is recommended as it reads as a memoir but provides investigative reporting, funny antidotes and overall information on the wine and tastings. If any of this appeals to you, you will enjoy this book. I couldn’t put it down. ( )
  SquirrelHead | Jun 29, 2017 |
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A tech reporter describes her introduction to the world of master sommeliers and her in-depth investigation into the source of their interests and skills, an effort marked by work with elite tasting groups, encounters at exclusive New York restaurants, visits to California winemakers and more.--

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