Bianca Bosker isn’t just another wine-guzzling writer—she’s what industry types call a “cork dork.” What better name for her most recent book, then, a New York Times bestseller that chronicles her journey from amateur wine drinker to professional sommelier, and which fellow cork dork Madeline Puckette called “the Kitchen Confidential of wine.”
Bosker stopped by the test kitchen to read a bit from Cork Dork and to teach us all a thing or two about how to taste a glass of wine. I caught up with Bosker after her chat and asked if she had any magical hangover cures and whether anyone should ever spend $100 on a bottle of wine. A lightly edited version of that conversation is below.
What’s the weirdest thing about a sommelier's tasting habits?
I think in part what makes them weird is the composite of the extremes to which some people will go in the name of flavor. One thing that I find generally peculiar and fascinating is the way that most of us ignore taste and smell. We only have five senses to make sense of the world, and we’ve written off two of them. And so overall what I find most compelling about sommeliers is the way they just turn that logic on its head and say, “No, there’s a beauty in flavor. There’s a beauty in odor. There’s a beauty in acid on the tongue that can rival a piece of music or a piece of art or a piece of writing.” I think that that worldview is so dissimilar from what most of us experience. And it translates into doing truly batty, far-out things in the name of honing your tastebuds and your sense of smell. So what’s the weirdest? Ah, it’s hard—going more than a year and a half without drinking anything above lukewarm temperature is pretty nuts, right? Licking rocks, chewing dirt . . . Not brushing your teeth at certain times of the day. But also just generally reorienting your life in order to keep things consistent if you’re tasting.