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
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: March 2017
ISBN: 978-0143128090
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford

Bianca Bosker takes a year and a half sabbatical from journalism and embarks upon her personal quest and journey to become a sommelier.

Ms. Bosker begins her story by sharing the first leg of her journey: a deprivation routine. Gone were her days of scented detergents and dryer sheets. While raw onions and hot sauce weren’t much of a sacrifice, there was a bit of a struggle with adding salt and her ‘dark phase’ when coffee was eliminated from her list of delectable common creature comforts. All this came at the behest of sourcing more than two dozen sommeliers and the inherent importance of cleansing the palate to virgin status. Ms. Bosker hangs up her journalism career to dive into the world of sommeliers with the notion most were nothing more than a ‘...bunch of pinstripe-wearing bottle pushers...’ Her feat had more than arms and legs and the challenge of perfecting the quintessential observation of the most coveted bottle of spirits was perhaps a higher mountain to climb than Ms. Bosker could have ever fathomed to have achieved.

The book guides the reader through the evolution of what is necessary to become an accomplished sommelier. It begins logically with an overview of ‘The Blind Tasting’; transitions to ‘Secret Societies’




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and ultimately completes its full circle. ‘The Blind Tasting’ is the end of the road of relentless palate training and brain demanding knowledge coupled with chiseled and fine-tuned olfactory perfection.

I embarked upon this read because, as a writer, my personal draw to most books is the title and cover. Cork Dork is the perfect title for Ms. Bosker’s book because it is certainly a body of work that can appeal to the many ‘wine aficionados’ among us today. Ms. Bosker’s journalistic talents speak volumes throughout this book as she has methodically laid the story out in logical and progressive fashion. She blends personal experience through her education of the ‘how to become’ nicely with historical and clinical facts toward the different regions of wine and the history of how they became what they are today. She sprinkles anecdotal humor toward her naivete as much as she stands her ground when it comes to her opinion. However, there is a theme throughout her book that was somewhat tedious for me. There is a bit too much pontification in certain chapters that could have been shortened somewhat (and still could have delivered a solid point, i.e., the chapter titled “The Orgy” was a bit over the top). Overall, I found this book to be entertaining and a solid personal affirmation that I have much to learn about the art of tasting that transcends far beyond the cute label and the color of the liquid inside the bottle. Thank you for such an informative read, Ms. Bosker.

Quill says: Cork Dork is an in-depth account of a former award-winning journalist’s adventure into the world of the art of adventuring down the road of becoming a sommelier.