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

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

For readers of Anthony Bourdain, Susan Orlean, and Mary Roach, a surprising, entertaining and hilarious journey through the world of wine.Like many of us, tech reporter Bianca Bosker saw wine as a way to unwind at the end of a long day, or a nice thing to have with dinner and that was about it. Until she stumbled on an alternate universe where taste reigned supreme, a worl...

Title:Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0698195906
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:346 pages

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

  • Randal White
    Nov 14, 2016

    Cork Dork manages to completely peel back the layers surrounding the wine world and it's mystique. I have to admit, I love wine. And have spent a copious amount of time trying to educate myself about it. Despite studying all the written material that I could find, and tasting many, many wines, I still could not detect the smells and tastes that sommeliers said were present. I suspect many of you find yourselves in a similar situation.

    Bosker, with no real experience, endeavors to become a sommel

    Cork Dork manages to completely peel back the layers surrounding the wine world and it's mystique. I have to admit, I love wine. And have spent a copious amount of time trying to educate myself about it. Despite studying all the written material that I could find, and tasting many, many wines, I still could not detect the smells and tastes that sommeliers said were present. I suspect many of you find yourselves in a similar situation.

    Bosker, with no real experience, endeavors to become a sommelier, in only 18 months. Through her experiences, I absorbed more information than I have in any other wine book. Right in the beginning, she states, "if you've ever wondered what all the fuss is about a wine, whether there's really a discernible difference between a $20 and $200 bottle, or what would happen if you pushed your senses to their limits, well then, I have some people I'd like you to meet". And, if you read the book, she will introduce to you a crazy cast of characters. Sommeliers who completely give up any semblance of a normal life to just taste wine, scientists who study smells and tastes, and many other just plain odd folks.

    If you have ever listened to someone describing the smells, or tastes of a wine, and thought to yourself, they have to be pulling my leg, than this is the book for you. The descriptors get wackier and wackier, not just things like green apples or blackberries, but "wet asphalt", "surgical glove", asparagus pee", "dried cardboard", and "salami farts". Think that it's a scam? You have a point, and Bosker reveals the entire story (although I won't, so not to spoil the surprises).

    Ever wondered what people were talking about when discussing the "legs" of a wine, the acidity, the tannins, or the alcohol content? Bosker explains not only what they are, but what they mean. In very simple to understand language.

    I've watched television programs about people attempting to become sommeliers (Uncorked, for example), and found them fascinating. Bosker graphically describes what they are like. From the knowledge tests, to the blind tastings, to the service portion. And goes through them herself.

    Ever wonder about how the so-called "experts" rate the top wines? The author covers this in depth, and the controversies resulting (not to spill the beans, but some of the ratings are dubious, at best).

    Throughout the book, Bosker is not only drinking wine and having a good time, but veers off into exploring many wine-related areas. The science of smell, and of taste. The type of people who are avid wine collectors. The new controversial practice of creating whatever type of wine you want in a factory, including being able to replicate some very expensive wines. The terminology of sommeliers and wine merchants (necrophiliacs, hand sells, trigger wines, and cougar juice, for a few). And what to watch for when dealing with a sommelier.

    I won't divulge the ending, suffice it to say that it was very satisfying.

    This is one of the most informative books that I have read this year, as well as one of the best written. I plan on keeping it handy to refer to for a long time. I highly, highly recommend it!

  • Jasmine from How Useful It Is
    Apr 18, 2017

    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

    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

  • Samantha March
    Mar 30, 2017

    As a casual wine drinker, I took on Cork Dork in hopes to learn a little about wine, be entertained and gain some knowledge. I think all of that happened, but it ended up being a tough read for me. I think this book is for very enthusiastic wine drinkers, sommeliers, or readers who really want extremely in depth knowledge about wine. For a more casual wine drinker or general reader, it’s hard to get in to. It can seem drawn out at times and it was hard to keep focus on. There were definitely par

    As a casual wine drinker, I took on Cork Dork in hopes to learn a little about wine, be entertained and gain some knowledge. I think all of that happened, but it ended up being a tough read for me. I think this book is for very enthusiastic wine drinkers, sommeliers, or readers who really want extremely in depth knowledge about wine. For a more casual wine drinker or general reader, it’s hard to get in to. It can seem drawn out at times and it was hard to keep focus on. There were definitely parts of the story that caught my attention or I was able to repeat a fact to friends, but overall it was a bit of a struggle to get invested in Cork Dork.

    I received a review copy

  • Book Pairings (Laci Long)
    Mar 31, 2017

    Rating: 5

    Pairings: 2015 Pedernales Texas Albarino & 2014 Silverado Vineyards Petit Verdot. I selected both of these wines because they are unlikely gems in the wine world, just like Bianca Bosker’s Cork Dork.

    Long ago I was romanced by the wonderful world of wine and I even toyed with the idea of becoming a sommelier a few years ago. Okay fine it wasn’t that long ago….I’m only 27 but around 22 I became obsessed with learning about wine. Not to the extent of the cork dorks and sommeliers with

    Rating: 5

    Pairings: 2015 Pedernales Texas Albarino & 2014 Silverado Vineyards Petit Verdot. I selected both of these wines because they are unlikely gems in the wine world, just like Bianca Bosker’s Cork Dork.

    Long ago I was romanced by the wonderful world of wine and I even toyed with the idea of becoming a sommelier a few years ago. Okay fine it wasn’t that long ago….I’m only 27 but around 22 I became obsessed with learning about wine. Not to the extent of the cork dorks and sommeliers within the pages of this book, but nonetheless I love learning about wine so this book was the perfect pairing for me. ;)

    Cork Dork follows the adventures of Bianca Bosker from tech journalist to cellar rat in the elite world of wine. Bosker takes us on a journey that reveals what it really takes to become a super-taster like the elite sommeliers around the world. I loved the combination of anecdotal evidence, idiosyncratic methodologies, and scientific research to better understand how you can hone your senses like the professionals. It really is fascinating.

    We also get glimpses into the world of upscale dining in New York City restaurants (be prepared to be shocked by the amount of money NYC elite will drop on wine), a California mass market wine producer, and a neuroscientist’s research using fMRI machines. There is no shortage of informative detail in this book, but Bosker’s writing style makes it a compulsive read. I highly recommend this to novice wine drinkers and cork dorks alike. Bosker is a breathe of fresh air in an industry that can feel stuffy and pretentious. Also check out her account and the hashtag #pairdevil for some amazing pairings of wine and takeout food.

    More About the #BookPairings:

    I had a hard time selecting just one wine to pair with Cork Dork, so I chose two. One red and one white, both of which are from vineyards that I have had the pleasure of visiting and learning from the experts that run them.

    The white wine is a little gem from the heart of Texas Hill Country. I selected the 2015 Pedernales Texas Albarino, which highlights a spanish grape varietal that thrives in Texas weather. This wine has a creamy mouth feel but also packs wonderful acidity with green apple and citrus flavors. It is the perfect wine to sip in the dead of summer heat.

    The red wine I chose is from a beautiful vineyard in Napa called Silverado. The 2014 Silverado Vineyards Petit Verdot Mount George Vineyard uses one of five common Bordeaux varietals.This wine packs a punch with dark fruit flavors, such as blackberry and cherry, and floral/herbal notes, such as violet and lilac.

  • JanB
    May 09, 2017

    A big thank you to my friend Mary - I won this book on a giveaway on her blog, bookfanmary.

    My husband and I are hardly wine connoisseurs. We drink wine, enjoy wine, and attend wine tastings when we get the chance, but liking and enjoying wine is far different than knowing wine. Several years ago we watched the documentary, Somm, which documented the rigors of becoming a master sommelier (a "cork dork"). Which, by the way, is tough, very tough. So I was thrilled to receive a copy of this book and

    A big thank you to my friend Mary - I won this book on a giveaway on her blog, bookfanmary.

    My husband and I are hardly wine connoisseurs. We drink wine, enjoy wine, and attend wine tastings when we get the chance, but liking and enjoying wine is far different than knowing wine. Several years ago we watched the documentary, Somm, which documented the rigors of becoming a master sommelier (a "cork dork"). Which, by the way, is tough, very tough. So I was thrilled to receive a copy of this book and get an inside look into the world of wine.

    The author documents the 1 1/2 years she spent studying and learning to become a sommelier. She tells of the experiences she had honing her tasting skills while also dishing out some juicy bits about swanky NYC restaurants and the service industry. She also uncovers, often humorously, secrets to the elusive descriptions of the flavors in wine.

    I enjoyed this book but be aware it can get a little technical at times. However, if the reader isn't interested in delving that deeply into the science of it all, those parts can be easily skimmed to get to the juicy bits. I will happily remain a casual drinker of wine, but I have great respect for sommeliers, and the knowledge and passion that drives them. This book may not be the end all, be all of the world of wine, but for a rookie like myself, it offered a peek into their world, and I will never approach a glass of wine in quite the same way.

  • Meg - A Bookish Affair
    Apr 06, 2017

    In "Cork Dork," author Bianca dives into the world of sommeliers. Now, I like wine. I know what color I prefer (red). I also know what kinds I prefer (malbecs or pinot noirs are clutch in my book). I know that I enjoy wine but that is about it. This book opened my eyes to a brand new world. Much of this book looks at the world of sommeliers. A little bit of obsessiveness, a little bit of science. A lot of one of my favorite subjects!

    In this book the author explores the intriguing world of sommel

    In "Cork Dork," author Bianca dives into the world of sommeliers. Now, I like wine. I know what color I prefer (red). I also know what kinds I prefer (malbecs or pinot noirs are clutch in my book). I know that I enjoy wine but that is about it. This book opened my eyes to a brand new world. Much of this book looks at the world of sommeliers. A little bit of obsessiveness, a little bit of science. A lot of one of my favorite subjects!

    In this book the author explores the intriguing world of sommeliers who are on the hunt to fine-tune their palette in order to become the best that they can be. I had no idea how rigorous sommelier training is! Some of their methods are unorthodox. I had to laugh about some of the people in the book deciding to like things lick rocks in order to fine-tune their taste a little bit.

    The author also goes into the science of wine-making and what makes different wines unique. She looks at why some wines are so much more expensive than others and whether or not the prices really worth it, something I have always wondered about myself. I really appreciated the way that the author did a deep dive into the subject.

    In some ways this book reminded me of some books like Mary Roach is where the author takes a deep dive into something that you've never really thought about all that much before. This book was thoroughly entertaining and I recommend it to my fellow winos!

  • Andrew
    Apr 25, 2017

    I enjoyed this book at the start, and then slowly started to despise it until I was about 60% done with it. At that point there were fantastic sections that dig into what truly defines “good wine” and how variable the definition can be.

    I literally judged this book by the cover, which displays a blurb comparing this book to

    . I didn’t need to read much of this book to see that comparing Bosker to Bourdain is a little ridiculous. Bourdain spent his life working his way through

    I enjoyed this book at the start, and then slowly started to despise it until I was about 60% done with it. At that point there were fantastic sections that dig into what truly defines “good wine” and how variable the definition can be.

    I literally judged this book by the cover, which displays a blurb comparing this book to

    . I didn’t need to read much of this book to see that comparing Bosker to Bourdain is a little ridiculous. Bourdain spent his life working his way through the bowels of the restaurant industry and learned to define good food and good chefs along the way. Bosker is a journalist who wanted to write about the wine world and spent a year studying wine and the people working their way through the bowels of the wine industry. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but the comparison bothered me a bit while reading. Bourdain talks like a grizzled vet who has been in the trenches, while Bosker seemed perennially gobsmacked by how crazy the wine world can be.

    That seems a little harsh. In reality, this is an interesting book. Bosker certainly brings a fresh perspective to wine, and shakes up some of the conventions that have gone stale. By the end, she arrives at a definition of “good wine” that sticks with you long after you finish reading.

    Part of my problem is Bosker’s seemingly disingenuous interest in the wine world. I just don’t believe that she started on this path for anything more than to write a book. She doesn’t have a lot of skin in the game because this isn’t a career path for her. There are big moments that should have a lot of emotional payoff, but they didn’t land because I wasn’t able to become emotionally invested in Bosker’s plight. What bothers me is that I felt like the author was dipping her toe in, to see what it’s like, not truly interested in spending the rest of her life living and breathing wine.

  • Deb
    Jun 30, 2017

    Probably 4.5 stars for me total.

    I really enjoyed this entertaining, informative and enjoyable book about Bosker's somewhat crazy foray into the world of wine, tasting and sommeliers and her pursuit to become a "cork dork." It's important to note that you don't have to know a lot about wine or be a wine fanatic to enjoy this book (I'm not--I enjoy wine, appreciate it, and know what I like and don't like and that's about it it), but being a foodie or food lover helps. The information and science "

    Probably 4.5 stars for me total.

    I really enjoyed this entertaining, informative and enjoyable book about Bosker's somewhat crazy foray into the world of wine, tasting and sommeliers and her pursuit to become a "cork dork." It's important to note that you don't have to know a lot about wine or be a wine fanatic to enjoy this book (I'm not--I enjoy wine, appreciate it, and know what I like and don't like and that's about it it), but being a foodie or food lover helps. The information and science "stuff" that Bosker explains so accessibly, has applications on tasting and enjoying any food or beverage. Having spent many years in the coffee industry and training to be a company "coffee master"--although not nearly as in-depth or rigid as trying to become a certified sommelier, made me relate and some of her tasting experiences brought me back. ;-)

    I'm glad that Bosker undertook her journey because no way I would sign up for that kind of dedication, but she had be both laughing and taking notes that will add to my wine confidence and some that I'll use in any tasting and further learning about food and drink. I like and firmly agree with the quote: "Every person has the capacity to find and savor the soul that lives in wine--and in other sensory experiences, if you know how to look for it." Cork Dork gives plenty of ways to look for it.

    I read this as a library e-book, but it is a book I'll be buying and adding to my food and wine books.

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