29 April 2017

Weekend Cooking: Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker

Review of Cork Dork by Bianca BoskerWhen tech journalist Bianca Bosker set out to learn more about wine, sommeliers, and the art (or talent or genetic predisposition) of tasting, she didn't expect to be totally won over by the people and their world. Her book Cork Dork (Penguin Books) -- part memoir, part investigative journalism -- tells the story of her year of discovery and transformation.

Bosker started with the question of whether master sommeliers have an in-born ability to discern flavors and scents or whether they have skill that can be learned by pretty much anyone. To answer this question, she talked to wine experts, trailed professionals in the high-end restaurant business, joined tasting groups, traveled around the world to interview scientists, and studied for the sommelier certification test.

Cork Dork is not only informative but also a delight to read. Bosker describes her adventure from journalist to budding wine expert in a light tone, telling her story as if she were talking to a friend. We learn of her successes and failures in gaining entree into wine's inner circles and her investigation into the science of taste and smell. We meet professional sommeliers, wine snobs, and wine anti-snobs.

Bosker was fascinated by the experts who can blind taste a wine and tell you the grape, vintage, and origin. She met the woman who was instrumental in setting up the wheel of wine flavors (slate, mineral, tobacco, leather, herbs, fruits and so on; see scan at right, click to enlarge) and underwent MRIs to see what happened in her brain when she sipped wine.

I find it a little crazy that there are people out there who regularly spend hundreds of dollars per bottle of wine and buy several expensive wines over the course of single night. These are the restaurant diners sommeliers live for. On the other hand, I was relieved to learn that most sommeliers are happy to help us little people too and will do their best to suggest a decent wine within our much more limited budgets.

Recommendation: Bianca Bosker's Cork Dork will appeal to anyone interested in food-related memoir, wine, or the restaurant / sommelier business. Whether you're a "civilian" who enjoys commercial wine (like me) or are an expert or collector who is always searching for that elusive best wine ever, you'll relate to Bosker's journey from wine drinker to wine connoisseur. As much as I like wine, I can't imagine devoting my life to it, but I liked getting to know the people who do.

Audiobook: I listened to the unabridged audiobook (Penguin Audio; 12 hr, 17 min) read by Bosker. I usually shy away from author-read books, so I was pleasantly surprised by Bosker's performance. She was enthusiastic, expressive, and seemed to have a natural sense of pacing. Recommended listen. (Thanks to Penguin Audio for the review copy.)

Note: I'm in a lacemaking workshop all weekend, but will pop on over to read your posts as soon as I can. The wine aroma wheel shown here is in the public domain.

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Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.
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14 comments:

Mae Travels 4/29/17, 7:00 AM  

Good book choice! I've seen other reviews and yours adds to what I know.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

jama 4/29/17, 7:47 AM  

What a great title for a book! Sounds like a very interesting read. I've always wanted to know whether sommeliers are born with extra sensitive taste buds -- kind of like perfume makers who have a heightened sense of smell . . .

(Diane) bookchickdi 4/29/17, 8:27 AM  

I agree, what a perfect title. Cork Dork sounds like a fascinating read. Enjoy your workshop!

bermudaonion 4/29/17, 8:56 AM  

I know people who can get all the flavors out of beer and can remember what a beer they had months ago was like so I'd be interested to see if that's something people can learn. I'm not a wine drinker but I think I'd like this.

Katherine P 4/29/17, 9:07 AM  

I've seen this one but wasn't sure it was for me because I'm not really a wine drinker. But this sounds really interesting. I've always been curious about the history of wine and if all the stuff people say at tastings really has some truth to it. I'll definitely check this one out.

rhapsodyinbooks 4/29/17, 9:47 AM  

Sounds like a fun book (Lacemaking, not so much, because I don't think my eyes can see small like that!)

Jackie Mc Guinness 4/29/17, 10:04 AM  

As a wine lover (like you) I am adding this book to my TBR list.

I do love that more commercial wine companies are going to screw tops, does that make me uncouth?

Deb in Hawaii 4/29/17, 11:20 AM  

I have been excited to hear your feedback on this book after seeing your posts on Litsy. Definitely adding it to the TBR pile--it sounds so interesting. Thanks for sharing and enjoy the lacemaking workshop. Looking forward to seeing some pics. ;-)

Claudia 4/29/17, 11:22 AM  

Lace making, now that sounds fun! And you have to love that name: Cork Dork. I'm so glad we have a good sommelier in our little town and he goes out of his way to find reasonably priced excellent wines.

Andrea Stoeckel 4/29/17, 12:16 PM  

Hey there. I do enjoy your blog. I'm one of the last grads of Miss Farmer's Cooking School, which closed in 77. I have an extensive cookbook collection. Someday, when I get my rear in gear, I want to review a few of them, and possibly a piece on 'Fanny Farmer vs. The Joy of Cooking: the ongoing feud between two siblings" about my Mom and her brother, now long gone.

Tasha B. 4/30/17, 11:51 PM  

I requested this at the library. Excited to read it!

Andrea 5/1/17, 1:06 AM  

Oooh, glad to know this was a audio by the author that works- adding it to my memoir list!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 5/1/17, 7:41 PM  

I'll have to get two of this one---one for me and one for my sister. We both love books about wine.

My Cozy Book Nook 10/23/17, 8:37 AM  

Fabulous suggestion! We listened to this on our 16-hour drive to Pensacola Beach. I love the author's writing style - her fresh metaphors and incredible sense of humor. And I thought she did a fine job narrating her own work. I particularly enjoyed the various voices she gave each of her SOMM friends.

Thank you SO much! Now that I have one audiobook under my belt, perhaps I won't shy away from "reading" them" anymore. I think non-fiction may be better for me than fiction.

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