CORK DORK by Bianca Bosker
Kirkus Star


A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste
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An 18-month immersion in the study of wine, teaching us not just about what to look for in the glass, but how to experience the world in a new way.

When tech journalist Bosker (Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China, 2012) went from being an amateur drinker to a professional pusher of wine, she did so in a big way. The self-described “type-A neurotic” and lover of “competition, the less athletic and more gluttonous the better,” decided to see if she could not just become a competent sommelier, but also pass the Certified Sommelier Exam, an event that requires blind tasting, vast theoretical knowledge, and a service test that is “like some weird hybrid of Trivial Pursuit, a ballroom dancing competition, and a blind date.” A job as a “cellar-rat,” where she hauled crates of wine down a dangerous ladder at a New York restaurant, gave her the chance to sample “dozens if not hundreds of wines a week” at tastings held by distributors—and to be “drunk by noon, hungover by 2 p.m.” Bosker made her way into a couple of blind tasting groups, where she met a wine mentor who coached her for the competition; traveled to California to view the production of mass-market wine; talked her way into a wine “orgy” for the mega-rich; and met with the inventor of the “Wine Aroma Wheel,” a “circular chart of six dozen descriptors.” Always perceptive, curious, and entertaining, the author describes her experiences with precision and a wry sense of humor, locating the exact words to evoke even the most insubstantial sensations.

Readers will certainly come away from the book knowing more about wine and likely eager to explore it further, but even those less inclined to imbibe will be intrigued by Bosker’s insights into the nature of smell and taste and the ways training and attention can increase one’s pleasure in them.

Pub Date: March 28th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-14-312809-0
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Penguin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2017


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