Book Review: Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker
Bianca Bosker’s Cork Dork is a high-octane account of her year in the New York wine scene, from slaving as a cellar rat to training as a sommelier and partying in the city’s inner sanctums…
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Cork Dork is pitched as a ‘wine-fuelled adventure among the obsessive sommeliers, big bottle hunters, and rogue scientists who taught me to live for taste’.
What’s in store is part memoir, part dissection of taste and what it means to devote your life to wine — with a great deal of humour and colourful characters thrown in.
Chapters including ‘The Secret Society’, ‘The Magic Kingdom’ and ‘The Orgy’ give you a flavour of the style. But above all, it is penetrative and debates the question, ‘what is good wine and why should I care about it?’
Curiosity piqued, she made the bold move of jacking in her job and throwing herself headlong into the world of wine…
From tech head to cork dork
Bosker was the executive tech editor for The Huffington Post, when she chanced upon a man who was preparing for the World’s Best Sommelier Competition.
Curiosity piqued, she made the bold move of jacking in her job and throwing herself headlong into the world of wine, training to become a sommelier.
But once you get to know her — and you do get to know her intimately (see page 249 for her Chablis bedroom mishap) —you realise that Bosker is first and foremost a professional journalist, with a sharp mind and structured approach.
Bridget Jones’ wine diary
At times, Bosker casts herself as an oenophilic Bridget Jones, haplessly falling into situations where others carry her along and shape her journey for her.
‘Along the way, you’ll meet the madman who hazed me, the cork dork who coached me, the Burgundy collector who tried to seduce me, and the scientist who studied me.’
In reality, Bosker is clearly a force to be reckoned with when it comes to navigating her way into the wine world’s inner sanctum.
In just one year she manages to access the Court of Master Sommeliers, New York’s most exclusive restaurants and the decadent La Paulée de New York – a ‘$1,500 BYOB gala dinner’. We finally leave her in a neuroscience lab in South Korea.
Controversy and acclaim
As a New York Times bestseller, Cork Dork clearly has broad appeal.
Its style has already caused a degree of controversy in wine circles, and not least Bosker’s subsequent praise for so-called ‘mass market’ wines in an opinion piece for the New York Times in March this year.
But, this book is in many ways a celebration of wine experts’ raison d’être, and for beginners it’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour.
Where you can buy it