Rebecca's Reviews > 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 by Bianca Bosker
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really liked it
bookshelves: foodie-lit, memoirs, awesome-title, science-tech, european-holiday-reading-2017, read-via-netgalley

Tasting notes: gleeful, ebullient, learned, self-deprecating
Suggested pairings: Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler; Top Chef, The Great British Bake Off

Bianca Bosker, previously a technology journalist, gave herself a year and a half to learn everything she could about wine in hopes of passing the Court of Master Sommeliers exam. Along the way she worked in a variety of New York City restaurants, joined blind tasting clubs, attended an olfactory conference, and blagged a TopSomm guest judge spot. The challenge was not just about educating her palate, but also absorbing tons of trivia about wine growers and production methods and learning the accepted standards for sommelier service.

The resulting book is a delightful blend of science, memoir and encounters with people who are deadly serious about wine. Taste and especially smell are underdeveloped human senses, but it is possible to train them: at the end of the book Bosker gets in an fMRI machine and proves that – like a London taxi driver with route-finding – there’s evidence of her brain having formed advanced connections in the areas involved in taste. Everyday wine drinkers may be particularly interested in the discussion of price versus quality, and the book made me think about how the passing pleasures of the flesh are still worth celebrating.

Some favorite lines:
On how to open a bottle of sparkling wine: “The cork should be twisted and released into a napkin with a pfft sound no louder than—and these are the technical terms I was given—a ‘nun’s fart,’ or ‘Queen Elizabeth passing gas.’”

“Smell, curator and keeper of memory, allowed me to be a time traveler, and more than ever before I had control over my destination: I could pick a scent or a wine, then whisk myself to a time, feeling, or place.”

From her guru, Morgan Harris: “Wine for me is just a touch point to a wider world view. That I am not important. That I am a sack of water and organs that’s going to be here on the Earth for eighty years if I’m lucky. And so I should figure out some way to make that count.”

The unassuming criteria of another of her mentors, Terroir wine bar chain co-creator Paul Grieco: “The wine must be yummy. One sip leads to a second sip. One glass leads to a second glass. One bottle leads to a second bottle.”
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Reading Progress

March 28, 2017 – Shelved
March 28, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
September 4, 2017 – Started Reading
September 4, 2017 – Shelved as: foodie-lit
September 4, 2017 – Shelved as: memoirs
September 8, 2017 – Shelved as: awesome-title
September 12, 2017 – Shelved as: science-tech
September 13, 2017 – Finished Reading
September 14, 2017 – Shelved as: european-holiday-reading-2017
September 22, 2017 – Shelved as: read-via-netgalley

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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Julie Ehlers Thanks for this great review. I like wine but wasn't sure I needed to read an entire book about it. Now I'm going to add it.


Rebecca Julie wrote: "Thanks for this great review. I like wine but wasn't sure I needed to read an entire book about it. Now I'm going to add it."

I'm no connoisseur, though I like a decent Sauvignon Blanc. I don't think you have to be to enjoy this. You just need even the slightest interest in foodie culture.


Julie Ehlers Rebecca wrote: "Julie wrote: "Thanks for this great review. I like wine but wasn't sure I needed to read an entire book about it. Now I'm going to add it."

I'm no connoisseur, though I like a decent Sauvignon Bla..."


Sauvignon Blanc is the best! It goes with everything.


message 4: by Trish (new)

Trish Sorry, "blagged"? Did you mean bagged or blogged?


Rebecca Trish wrote: "Sorry, "blagged"? Did you mean bagged or blogged?"

No, to blag something is to get hold of it cheekily -- a Briticism, I guess :) They do creep into my speech/writing.


message 6: by Eileen (new) - added it

Eileen Great review, Rebecca. I've been looking forward to starting this one. :)


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