Posted in Books

Cork Dork

by Bianca Bosker

You don’t have to be a dork to thoroughly enjoy this book, but if your interest in wine extends to the cut-throat rigors of wine-tasting competitions, and memorizing the details of obscure vintages, then you may be in danger of getting charged a dorkage fee at some of your finer restaurants…

Seriously, though, even for those who don’t pay a lot of attention to wine beyond enjoying a glass or two with supper, this little book can be a very entertaining read. Ms. Bosker allows the reader get a glimpse into a world few of us will experience, and does so in a way that is as light, lively, and full of wry humor as it is informative. The convoluted sub-title to the book probably says it the best:

“A wine fueled adventure among the obsessive sommeliers, big bottle hunters, and rogue scientists who taught me to live for taste.”

Now, if your experience with sommeliers ranges from slim to none, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about, why the details of such an obscure profession would make an interesting read. Well, you’ll just have to trust me on that one… just consider how popular Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential became, even among people who have no connection with the restaurant business…

A little about Bianca…

Bianca Bosker is a reporter who, before ‘Cork Dork’, was writing mostly about things technological. She became fascinated with the world of the Sommelier after binge-watching The Best Sommelier in the World Competition videos on You-Tube.

Those videos are well-worth looking at but, for Ms. Bosker, they inspired her to investigate the world of the professional sommelier by quitting her regular job and becoming a full-time wine-drinker. Now, that’s an enviable occupation by any measure, but this young woman took things a step further and used her year off to train for, then take the examinations posed by the Court of Master Sommeliers. This experience, which included actually working in restaurants and diving deep into the social sub-culture of sommeliers, led her to write ‘Cork Dork’.

The Read…

I won’t try to explain what it takes to become a professional sommelier (chiefly because there is no way I can do it in as entertaining a way as Bianca Bosker), but suffice it to say that, to pass the required exams and qualify to be called a Master Sommelier is no easy feat. What, I think, most readers will take away from this book, is an appreciation of why wine can be so fascinating and engaging a subject for so many people, and how the ability to appreciate the beverage itself doesn’t require any special talents or innate abilities, but can, in fact, be learned.

For those who have been mystified by wine experts describing the aroma and taste of a wine as containing hints of vanilla, or petroleum, or graphite dust, or… whatever, Ms. Bosker, by describing her experiences in learning how to sample vintages, lets us in on the little known secret that *anyone* can, through practise, learn to identify individual notes from the chemical symphony in a glass of wine. That is not to say, of course, that we can all learn to identify a Chateau d’Yquem 1989 in a blind-tasting competition, but, by taking a lesson from this author’s experience, we can all of us get a little more out of each glass we sample.

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