A friend of mine, Gwendolyne Willis, who writes Philly Wine and Beer blog, recommended the book, Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker to me. As I’m always looking for new wine books to read, I ordered it right away. I thought it would be a fun change from the serious informative wine books I’ve been reading lately. The front cover says, “A wine-fueled adventure among the obsessive sommeliers, big bottle hunters, and rogue scientists who taught me to live for taste.” Should be a roaring good time, or at least provide some chuckles – which it did in spades. It’s not often a book makes me laugh out loud, but Bosker’s revelations and stories had me earning curious stares while reading at a dog park by myself. Or maybe it was the fact that I didn’t have a dog.
While it was hysterical to read, I had no idea I would learn so much from it! After the first few pages, I sat reading with highlighter in hand to try and capture the informative bits, in addition to the humor. Bosker has a way of writing that is down to earth, real, honest, and an ability to break down complex wine themes and terms so that even a beginner could understand it.
Bosker’s humorous and honest writing lured me in, and kept me there, even when it delved into more of a wine “lecture” at times. It made me want to live what she was living, experience what she was experiencing. Since I couldn’t quite do that, nor did I think being a stalker would look good on my resume, I decided to take her advice to further my wine interest/career. When she recommended a website, I looked it up. When she mentioned a flash card app that she uses (Cram), I downloaded it. When she talked with a person, be it sommelier, winemaker, bar owner, scientist, or whoever, I Googled them. Sometimes I connected with them on social media. Okay…that may have a sense of the stalkerish vibe, but I promise I’m not. I’m really not.
What she did, accomplishing the Court exam and becoming a Master Sommelier in one year, is unheard of. It’s a grueling, demanding, life-altering experience and takes slavish dedication. It can end relationships, addle your brain and liver, and cause you to spout the oddest terms at the oddest times. It has you sniffing the air as you walk, naming what you smell. It leads you into dark caverns where relics of the wine world are waiting for you to release their essence and share it with the world, or not, depending on whether you feel they’re worthy of it or not. Bosker shares the dark underbelly of the Somm world, but also exposes the laughter and rewards of such a demanding career. She also gives us glimpses into the maniac, seductive, humorous, crazy subculture of wine and the wine lover.
Whether you read this book for the pure enjoyment of it, or want to learn more about what you’re getting into to become a Somm, or Cork Dork as they’re known, or are just passionate about wine, I highly recommend it. It’ll open your eyes, and your soul, to a passion that few understand except for other wine geeks. I, for one, love being called a cork dork. It fits. And I get it.