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Cork Dork

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

By Bianca Bosker
15-minute read
Audio available
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 (2019) explores the world of wine through the eyes of one aspiring wine-expert. Bianca Bosker quit her job in journalism and set herself an ambitious goal: to become an expert sommelier. Despite having little prior knowledge of wine, she achieved this in just eighteen months. Along the way, she learned everything there is to know about wine – making it, serving it, tasting it, and talking about it.

  • Drinkers curious about wine
  • Aspiring sommeliers
  • Diners unsure of what to drink

Bianca Bosker is a journalist and author. Her articles have appeared in the Atlantic, the New York Times, and the New Yorker, among other publications. Cork Dork, her second book, was a New York Times best seller. 

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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
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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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
Synopsis

Cork Dork (2019) explores the world of wine through the eyes of one aspiring wine-expert. Bianca Bosker quit her job in journalism and set herself an ambitious goal: to become an expert sommelier. Despite having little prior knowledge of wine, she achieved this in just eighteen months. Along the way, she learned everything there is to know about wine – making it, serving it, tasting it, and talking about it.

Key idea 1 of 9

Becoming a top sommelier is a crazy, even obsessive business. 

The author, Bosker, had just never really been that into wine. Sure, she knew that wine out of a bottle was generally preferable to wine out of a box. But beyond that? Wine was just...wine.

A chance remark changed her life. In a fancy Manhattan restaurant, she met a sommelier who mentioned that he was preparing for the World’s Best Sommelier Competition. 

Hang on a second, thought Bosker. How much of a competition can serving wine possibly be? Surely you just open the bottle and pour it out, right? She was intrigued. Later that night, she started googling sommelier competitions. And what she saw fascinated her. 

The key message in this blink is: Becoming a top sommelier is a crazy, even obsessive business. 

Curled up in bed, Bosker watched Youtube videos of sommelier competitions. She held her breath as she watched Véronique Rivest, the first female finalist in the World’s Best Sommelier Competition. Her task was to perform a blind tasting: identify the grape, year, country, and area of production. 

Rivest took a glass of white wine. She inhaled deeply, taking in the aromas. The room around her was tense with silence.

Let’s consider for a minute what it actually means to identify a wine in a blind tasting. To start, there are 50 wine-producing nations. In France alone, there are 340 defined wine areas. There are also over 5,000 grape varieties. In short, there are about a gazillion different wines out there. And Rivest, like all the other candidates, had precisely 180 seconds to identify exactly what was in the glass. 

The clock ticked. Rivest sniffed. Rivest sipped. And then, confidently, she announced that the wine was from Maharashtra, India, and was a 2011 vintage made from Chenin Blanc grapes. Spot on.

Why was Bosker so intrigued by what she saw? Well, she was a journalist. And by this point, her journalistic curiosity had well and truly kicked in. Who are these people, she thought, who appear to have the kind of sensory abilities of sniffer dogs? 

This curiosity was the start of her personal journey. She soon became consumed by a desire to understand the world of wine. So, she quit her reliable job in journalism, and she spent her mornings tasting and her afternoons hungover. She also set her sights on an ambitious goal: passing the Certified Sommelier Exam, the industry standard for becoming a respected sommelier. 

But she had a lot to learn.

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