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Cork Dork

By Andrew Lovett-Barron
Published in Reading
August 22, 2021
1 min read

As someone who regularly falls down rabbit holes, I’d probably describe this book as a museum audio tour of a particularly deep one.

Cork Dork follows the author’s journey into the world of sommelier-hood — developing her palette, finding structure and mentorship in her learning, exploring the friendships, and achieving a goal. The book is broken down into a pretty accessible structure, not dissimilar to some of Michael Pollan’s books which often use the pursuit of a class of object (food), skills (architecture), or experience (psychedelics) to immerse the reader in some deeper philosophical deep dive. In this case, Bosker uses these techniques to explore the specifics of wine and the wine industry (scientifically, organizationally, and culturally) while asking some broader questions around what makes particular experiences like wine rarified over other things. One of her comparisons is to water and the idea of training one’s palette on water to better appreciate wine.

As someone who enjoys wine but has never really invested time in understanding its nuances (or, for that matter, describing them), it was a pretty interesting glimpse of a world that I’ve interacted with from a service experience, but really don’t understand. It also did a fair bit to demystify and situate the expertise in something that was more recognizable. I also appreciated how Bosker touched on some of the more troublesome parts of the industry surrounding this type of expertise — alcoholism, drug use, late nights, low pay, and stress.

Anyway, really recommend this book. I read it two years ago and am due for a re-read of it myself.

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Andrew Lovett-Barron

Software Designer and Researcher

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