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Cork Dork

I consider myself a Pinot geek, a term in common parlance that roughly equates to the term, “cork dork”. But even as I am fanatically committed to wine in general and Pinot Noir specifically, I found through reading this book that my obsession pales in comparison to the fraternity of true cork dorks, often seen in public working as sommeliers.

Former technical journalist, Bianca Bosker, takes the reader on her wine-fueled journey as she progresses from a philistine (her term) to a Certified Master Sommelier in a matter of a year’s time. In joining the sommelier-in-training subculture, she found that she could train, organize and heighten her aroma and flavor senses to analyze and enjoy wine on a level only experienced by devoted cork dorks. She became living proof of the well-recognized idea that professional tasters are able to teach themselves to experience wine differently than novices. I could relate because I have traveled a similar path as well.

I found myself laughing out loud at several junctures, even as I was learning about wine surreptitiously. Did you know that grape tannins are experienced through a rough feeling on the tongue and roof of the mouth while oak barrel tannins dry out the spot between the lips and gums? Or that the three key attributes that pros consistently consider when rating a wine are its balance, complexity and finish? Did you know that there are more than sixty additives that can legally go into wine, and one of them, Mega Purple (a grape-juice concentrate), is in just about every wine priced under $20?

Not surprisingly, my favorite quote in the book references Pinot Noir, specifically Burgundy. “Pinot from Burgundy is such a whore. It’s like the boyfriend who generally treats you like shit but shows up at the right time with flowers and chocolates. I’ve never watched someone open what was supposed to be an outstanding bottle of Burgundy without a look of mild terror on their face.”

This book should win a James Beard Award, or even a Nobel Prize if they gave out such a thing for wine writing. Trust me, it is that good. Published in paperback with 307 captivating pages and priced at $17 ($9.88 on Amazon), this book will give you considerably more pleasure than any $17 bottle of wine.

In a related matter, filmmakers Lani Chan and Bianca Holman detail the work it takes to become a Master Sommelier if you are a woman in the film “Somm State of Mind.” The film will be shown in the Sonoma Film Festival in April.

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