I spent the weekend reading “Cork Dork” by Bianca Bosker. I ran the giveaway last week. But I want to get the word out that this book is really good. The blurbs on the cover from Susan Orlean, author of “The Orchid Thief” and Mary Roach, the author of “Gulp” might tempt you to open this book. But the starred reviews from Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly should seal the deal.
I enjoy reading about the restaurant business because I worked in it for many years. I loved Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential” and can relate to much of the craziness in it because I saw it years ago… So that’s what really caught my attention; the mention that this is similar to Bourdain. And it is. The author left her job as a journalist to spend a year or so becoming a wine sommelier.
“More Americans are drinking wine than ever before, yet the rituals, customs, and language around it are as rarefied and opaque as ever, leaving many of us wondering what all the fuss is about. What makes the bottle I bought for last weeks’ dinner party “bad”? Are sommeliers just pretentious, glorified salespeople, or can they actually taste things like pyrazine and honeysuckle in wine? And why do so many people devote their lives (or life savings) to experiencing minute differences in flavor that most of us can’t even perceive, let alone appreciate? There were some of the questions obsessing Bianca Bosker when she decided to give up her job as executive tech editor at the Huffington Post in favor of tasting wines at 8a.m., lifting and sorting heavy bottles as a “cellar rat” in one of Manhattan’s top restaurants, and foregoing coffee, spicy foods, and sometimes even toothpaste in order to taste better.”
When Bianca began her adventure to explore the mysterious world of wine and wine sommeliers, she knew she would have to give up the obvious stuff like perfume; first thing to go. But it’s the things that followed that she had not been expecting: scented detergent, dryer sheets, and even added salt in her foods. Reality began to set in.
When Bianca told her friends and family what she was going to be doing for eighteen months, you can only imagine their surprise. They were shocked she would leave a stable job to go drink wine all day. Of course they pictured her homeless… She got a job working in a large Manhattan restaurant as a “cellar rat” which met she would be climbing unstable stairs carrying unstable boxes of wine all day long. She would also be tasting wine at ten in the morning several times a week. Oh my. Of course then they pictured her becoming a full-blown alcoholic. She explained to them that this was a real job and that she had it all under control.
Bianca manages to befriend some pretty interesting people but, my favorite person is Morgan Harris who became her mentor. He introduced her to a small group of aspiring Master Sommeliers who met weekly at restaurant Eleven Madison Park (EMP). They were considered to be the Holy Grail of New York blind tasting groups. There was even a waiting list to join. All this in preparation for the Master Sommelier Exam in their case. Bianca would go on to take the Certified Sommelier’s Exam.
You don’t have to be a wine enthusiast to enjoy this fascinating and witty book. Just bring your love and interest in wine to the book and you’ll be glad you did. We love wine and enjoy it several times a week with dinner. My husband says I have a good nose for it. I can usually pick out subtle tones of licorice and beet, or wood and fruit. I’ve learned so much more from reading “Cork Dork” all the while enjoying the read. I think you will tool.
My finished book arrived from Penguin in exchange for an honest review. I loved it.