I believe I heard about this book through the Twitter-sphere. As a self-proclaimed wine-nerd, the title obviously caught my attention. Any chance to nerd-out on wine, and I’ll be there in a second. Well Bianca Bosker takes that a step further. Actually she takes it a whole marathon worth of steps further, quitting her steady journalism career to train full time for the country’s oldest sommelier competition. Crazy? Seemingly so. But the way Bianca goes about it — her pure dedication to asking the broad question “what’s the big deal with wine” and then focusing in on every minute detail — makes the journey so much more plausible, realistic, and the goal attainable. I encourage you to take this journey with her…
About the Book: I will, like with Peter Stafford-Bow’s Corkscrew, provide you with a bit of a warning. This book is uber geeky — I mean down to the molecular level geeky. As Bianca says in her opening chapter,
For you a glass of wine might be your happy place. The thing you reach for at the end of a long day, when you switch off a part of your brain. If you want to keep it that way, then stay far, far away from this book.
Now all that being said, the book really is a journey. Almost a scavenger hunt, if you will. As I mentioned, Bianca starts out with broad questions: Why wine? Why is wine so great? Why do people decide to dedicate their lives to wine? And instead of asking those questions, she immerses herself completely into the wine culture.
Of course this is easier said than done. There’s a whole wine industry that can be, shall we say, closed off if you’re not already “one of the crowd.” So Bianca makes herself “one of the crowd.” She finds study groups, takes on mentors, gets herself working in a restaurant (even if it is just as a cellar hand) and takes every opportunity to engage with wine.
But the journey doesn’t end there. Actually, that’s just where it begins because studying with these people, working with wine, opens up a whole scope of new nuanced questions: Why do we smell what we smell? Why do we taste what we taste? What makes expensive wine more delicious — or is it, Why is delicious wine more expensive? Bianca explores all of that in this book — and she does it by going straight to the source. Expert somms, yes, but also scientists who specialize in the senses, winemakers with, let’s say, “specific” points of view, and of course the general public — wine drinkers.
The very nature that one question leads to another is basically the answer itself. Why wine? Because…
What You’ll Learn: Everything you didn’t know you wanted to know about wine, smelling wine, tasting wine, sommelier culture. If you thought the movie Somm and Somm Into the Bottle shed some light on what it means to study wine — you know nothing.
I want to say one thing, though, and I’ll throw it in here because if I were to say everything that I learned in this book that would be a week-long series, honestly. Anyway, the thing is, that Bianca has a fun, realistic voice. She’s clearly “one of us:” a wine drinker, a curious person — she’s fun and witty and she keeps her personality with every step of this marathon journey. So, Bianca, though I agree with the aforementioned warning to a point, I want to add an asterisk to that point and say that the way she tells the story of wine study is engaging, informative, and at times even funny. She gets frustrated, confused, drunk on more than one occasion — and its that realism that makes the book. So wine-nerd or not, you’ll get a kick out of Bianca’s literature.
Wine Pairing: Any good wine book — yes even manga — will make you want to have a good glass of wine. Reading Cork Dork, there are plenty of ideas of how to host and participate in a blind tasting. If you’ve got a wine group or book group, this could totally be a fun game for your next book club meeting.
But if you’re like me and like to read in your PJs with your cat curled on your lap — book in one hand and glass in the other — then I say, pop the cork on something “fancy” and see if you can’t figure out…”What’s the big deal with wine?”
More Information: I received a copy of Cork Dork as a sample for review. (Cheers Bianca!). You can purchase Cork Dork on Amazon (Paperback: $10). For more information about Bianca, please visit BiancaBosker.com. Cheers!
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