What would it be like to quit your job and spend a year studying wine? No, I mean, really studying it – not just drinking it. Learning how to appreciate the various aromas, textures, degrees of alcohol, tannins, and acidity and be able to blind taste them and name the grape, the label and the year it was made without peeking at the label! What might it be like to hang with the sommeliers of New York’s finest restaurants to learn what is considered important in the service of these wines? Or to research where all these crazy, lofty ways of describing wines came from. Well, Bianca Bosker has done this and she’s been kind enough to share her journey with us in the pages of Cork Dork.
In her quest to become a sommelier, Bosker smells everything in her kitchen in her home and in her city. She insinuates herself in the world of the sommelier by befriending a top somm who brings her to blind tastings and allows her to witness the training that each somm puts themself through. Trailing other waiters, working in a wine cellar in a restaurant, getting to taste a vast quantity of fancy and less than fancy wines, Bosker widens her scope of experience very quickly. She travels around the country and around the world in this quest, visiting restaurants, vineyards, and scientists who help her understand how she can best go about understanding and perfecting her art.
What makes a good wine good? What makes a good sommelier good? What makes a good wine description good? These are questions she seeks to answer during the course of the book and she seeks out answers from many different sources. Throughout the whole time, she is studying and practicing and honing her tasting and olfactory skills, trying to prep for the certification exam. And while she learns, so do we, as she sketches out for us her findings.
I do have to confess, that I do think some of the descriptions are bullshit, as she even cops to; however, I do respect the devotion and the obsession that the sommelier does have to go through to become certified in this field. And now I have a newfound appreciation of exactly what that entails!