“The Kitchen Confidential of wine: Read this book, and you’ll never be intimidated by wine—or wine snobs—again.”
~Madeline Puckette, co-author of Wine Folly
In the world of wine, just as life in general, one cannot literally “know it all”. Wine especially, is like that. In its entirety, wine is an infinite source of history, artistry, geography, weather patterns, science, sensory expertise, flavor profiling, tasting preference, spiritual celebration, olfactory acuity, tragedy, loss, gain, fortune, finance, poetry, ancestry, magic, complexity. And so on. It is an impossibly mapped Visio diagram, with more off page references than I could ever draw comparison to, and its origins go back nearly as far as our own creation does. It is something to be passionate about, for the consumer, the novice and the professional alike.
From the start of my journey, I knew I needed to dive deep into the academia of the wine world in search of expanded understanding, exploratory taste development, and improved subject skills to achieve bonafide certification as a Sommelier.
I came across the book “Cork Dork” by Bianca Bosker while Amazon shopping for some wine study curriculum recommended by the Guild and also some Sommelier friends whom I have become chatty with. While perusing the proverbial bookshelves of Amazon online, I was thrilled to stumble upon the apparent gem that is Cork Dork. The work is not wine curriculum, but it is largely inspirational for someone with aims such as mine. I quickly added it to my virtual shopping basket and pushed toward the “check out” line for same day delivery as fast as the “buy now” link would permit.
Upon delivery of several purchases, Cork Dork was the first book that went to bed with me, went to the hair salon with me, flew about the country with me, and spent weekends at the pool with me, until I was finally finished annotating, flagging and highlighting all the interesting nuggets my brain reacted to within its prose. I found myself highlighting from page X of the introduction [translate: I was immediately, rabidly obsessed]. I am definitely not here to write a professional book review. But if you read this review from the voice of a wine loving lady who craves authentic experiences more meaningful than an “oh, that’s interesting” perspective, then I’ve served us both well.
Cork Dork is the memoir of technology writer turned wine Somm, Bianca Bosker. Her story gives account of the (very privileged, not pedestrian in the slightest) one year journey toward Sommelier Certification and full time employment in the field. The start of her thrilling timeline begins with the resignation of her “stable job as a journalist to stay home and taste wines” in the first sentences of Chapter One. From that point forward, the book rockets you through every crevice and experience wine world has to offer; from stocking wine cellars in NYC fine dining establishments, to infusing herself into elite [MS candidates; EMP regulars] tasting groups, to trailing working Sommeliers through lunch and dinner services, into the “worlds best” Sommelier competitive events as both a guest judge and honorary competitor, into the upper echelon of the highest recognized and decorated kitchens in New York City, into world-renowned wine events such as the incredible La Paulée and her writings about shadowing the finest working Sommeliers – mind blowing and all so brilliantly written. Her ability to objectively question the “why” and “how” of every trailblazing experience she had makes the book feel so real, causing the reader to feel as if they themselves could be inside these privileged experiences and not just a fly on the wall. The book culminates with her written experience of the Guild exam and subsequent transition into the field as a certified Sommelier. What began for me as an effort to start wine studying to become a non-working hobby Somm became both indulgent reading and insightful, inspirational, non-technical studying. I leisurely read, and re-read her book while making frequent stops at Google to dig myself further into my rabbit hole and prolong the end of the book.
Final verdict: An entertaining, laugh out loud, feel-good read for the non-wine professional to the neighboring wine nerd. All cork dorks will find joy in this entertaining read. Pour yourself a glass before turning the first page! This book will remain in my library for years.
Happy reading. friends!
Edited by Author 8/30/17:
Cork Dork author, Bianca Bosker and I exchanged sweet nothings in response to my book review of her brilliant work. She is someone I would literally go and have a glass of wine with! (maybe one day during one of my trips to NYC I’ll look up her restaurant)
The graciousness of her correspondence reveals just how authentic a person she really is. Takes the voice of her book to such a true level!