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

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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Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not only is this a fun read, but I learned more than a few things. I love wine. I could never be a Somme. Now I know exactly why...on both counts. Great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love wine and trying new wines, but I would never want to prepare for the sommelier exam. The book was funny, enlightening and super enjoyable.
Mary Andrews 3 months ago
Loved it
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
Bianca Bosker takes a year and a half sabbatical from journalism and embarks upon her personal quest and journey to become a sommelier. Ms. Bosker begins her story by sharing the first leg of her journey: a deprivation routine. Gone were her days of scented detergents and dryer sheets. While raw onions and hot sauce weren’t much of a sacrifice, there was a bit of a struggle with adding salt and her ‘dark phase’ when coffee was eliminated from her list of delectable common creature comforts. All this came at the behest of sourcing more than two dozen sommeliers and the inherent importance of cleansing the palate to virgin status. Ms. Bosker hangs up her journalism career to dive into the world of sommeliers with the notion most were nothing more than a ‘...bunch of pinstripe-wearing bottle pushers...’ Her feat had more than arms and legs and the challenge of perfecting the quintessential observation of the most coveted bottle of spirits was perhaps a higher mountain to climb than Ms. Bosker could have ever fathomed to have achieved. The book guides the reader through the evolution of what is necessary to become an accomplished sommelier. It begins logically with an overview of ‘The Blind Tasting’; transitions to ‘Secret Societies’ and ultimately completes its full circle. ‘The Blind Tasting’ is the end of the road of relentless palate training and brain demanding knowledge coupled with chiseled and fine-tuned olfactory perfection. I embarked upon this read because, as a writer, my personal draw to most books is the title and cover. Cork Dork is the perfect title for Ms. Bosker’s book because it is certainly a body of work that can appeal to the many ‘wine aficionados’ among us today. Ms. Bosker’s journalistic talents speak volumes throughout this book as she has methodically laid the story out in logical and progressive fashion. She blends personal experience through her education of the ‘how to become’ nicely with historical and clinical facts toward the different regions of wine and the history of how they became what they are today. She sprinkles anecdotal humor toward her naivete as much as she stands her ground when it comes to her opinion. However, there is a theme throughout her book that was somewhat tedious for me. There is a bit too much pontification in certain chapters that could have been shortened somewhat (and still could have delivered a solid point, i.e., the chapter titled “The Orgy” was a bit over the top). Overall, I found this book to be entertaining and a solid personal affirmation that I have much to learn about the art of tasting that transcends far beyond the cute label and the color of the liquid inside the bottle. Thank you for such an informative read, Ms. Bosker. Quill says: Cork Dork is an in-depth account of a former award-winning journalist’s adventure into the world of the art of adventuring down the road of becoming a sommelier.
HowUsefulItIs More than 1 year ago
About: Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste is a memoir written by Bianca Bosker. It was recently published on 3/28/17 by Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, paperback, 352 pages. The genres are non-fiction, food, memoir, wine, and science. This book is intended for readers ages 18 and up, grades 13 and up. My Experience: I started reading Cork Dork on 3/31/17 and finished it on 4/18/17. Wine amazes me even more after reading this book. This book offers me more than I bargained for. There are abundant of info on wine and those wine experts known as Sommeliers and they must be geniuses in order to know it all. The blind tasting is beyond words! They must have some amazing taste buds! At a blind tasting, your expected answer goes something like “This is a Merlot-dominant blend from the right bank of Bordeaux from the village of Saint-Emilion in the 2010 vintage of Grand Cru Classe quality.” p.75 Who can do this if not geniuses? There are competitions too where the competitors will compete in this blind tasting on 6 different wines and it’s timed! In this book, readers will follow Bianca Bosker, a journalist taking a year and a half journey to learn and live the life of wine. She starts at the bottom of the ladder as a Cellar Rat to learn the basics on wine and to get free tastings on variety of wines producers makes or restaurants purchases. From there on, she went on to meet other wine enthusiasts to learn in-depth about wine, such as taking an exam to become a Master Sommelier and joining a competition as a judge instead of a competitor to observe how it all unfold. Through her adventures, she unravels and demands entrance to secret meetings that obsessive sommeliers, big bottle hunters, and rogue scientists meet to obsess over wine. Studying for the exam is ridiculously difficult, 2200 flash cards and 116 crib sheet, but yours may be more. This book has it all. Bianca taught me how to perform blind tasting and the right way to enjoying a glass of wine. She taught me on the history of wine, the steps to become a Master Sommeliers, locations of vineyards, and much more. This book deserves multiple readings because it’s rich with information and experiences that reading once just becomes too overwhelming. The Don’ts on serving wine is enough to make me dizzy, let alone the history on the sense of smells. I like knowing the secrets on ordering by the glass at the restaurant to how amazing the Sommeliers are. They don’t just serve wine, they have the expertise, charm, calm, and overall knowledge of not just wine but what go with wine. I highly recommend this book to everyone who is interested to learn more about wine. It doesn’t hurt to gain extra knowledge. Pro: history of wines and sense of smells, steps to become a sommelier, types of wines, blind tasting, secret meetings, informative, humor, cover, step-by-step instructions, very well written, Con: not easy to read through the history bits I rate it 5 stars! ***Disclaimer: Many thanks to Penguin Random House for the opportunity to read and review. Please assured that my opinions are honest. xoxo, Jasmine at
billmarsano More than 1 year ago
This review is based on a pre-publication copy of the book. By Bill Marsano. Until recently, Bianca Bosker was a reasonably sane person. Then, all of a sudden she became obsessed with wine—not just drinking wine but knowing practically everything there is to know about it: how it’s made, where and by whom, how to serve it at a top-dollar restaurant, and yada-yada-yada. In fact, she decides to become a Certified Sommelier, which involves a series of terrifying exams administered by the pretentiously named Court of Master Sommeliers. These tests are so difficult that a) most candidates flunk them at least once and b) ALL candidates must pass qualifying exams to sit for the main exams. Bosker plunges in bravely and wittily; luckily, she has some contacts and is good at both making friends and talking very convincing B.S. Wow! Becoming a Certified Sommelier! Wearing the little lapel pin! Are you sure, as they say these days, “that you want to go there?” In Bosker’s telling it’s a pretty awful trip. She and her pals begins tasting wine at 10 in the morning and continue for most of the day, then go on to low-pay, long-hours jobs at restaurants—even the pals who already ARE sommeliers at some level. Then there are the costs: of the training, the tasting clubs, the study books, the exams (which often require travel to distant cities). Many a relationship has crumbled under the strain. (Bosker’s did not, even though she went so far off the deep end that she would review her flash cards while biking to work. Like the selfie-taker who fell off a bridge, she’s lucky she’s alive.) Bosker pulls no punches and keeps no secrets. You think wine is made from grapes and yeast? Wait till you see Bosker’s list of factory additives used to turn guck into acceptable plonk, or better. Think the sommelier is there to help? Well, maybe, but his real job is to “upsell” you to bottles that cost twice or thrice your budget. Think the bottom of the wine list is Bargain Central? Actually, those wines are marked up even more than top-dollar selections. Think wine-by-the-glass is a good deal? Only if you don’t mind that your 6-ounce serving costs at least as much as the full bottle at retail. A veteran writer-reporter on other subjects and a good one, Bosker is fair and even-handed. She makes a defense for sommeliers’ archaic rituals, but also wonder whether they’re not hopelessly out of step with the 21st Century. She explains how deeply the fanatical devotion to wine can change lives for the better but also makes clear that a Cork Dork becomes the kind of person only another Cork Dork would want to have dinner with, because very often wine that the Dorks call bad is wine that tastes good to an awful lot of non-Dorks. You might be reminded of the director Jim Jarmusch, who once worried that if his new film was a hit, it meant he’d done something wrong. Or novelist Jonathan Franzen, who snubbed Oprah Winfrey’s book club. I wonder why. –Bill Marsano is a James Beard award-winning writer on wine, spirits, food and travel.