Would you love to get an insider view of the wine world – a sneak peak behind the scenes?
That’s exactly what we’re going to learn from our guest from our guest who has written a book that has become a New York Times bestseller.
Our guest this evening has is the author of the New York Times bestseller CORK DORK: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste
It’s been described as the “KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL of wine.”
She has written about food, wine, architecture, and technology for The New Yorker online, The Atlantic, The New York Times, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and The New Republic, among other publications.
… and she joins me live now from her home in New York City: Welcome to the Sunday Sipper Club Bianca Bosker!
P.S. Tune in here for our next Live Video Wine Tasting:
We’ll be simultaneously broadcasting on Facebook Live, YouTube Live Stream and Twitter Live Video via Periscope.
Watch previous episodes of the Sunday Sipper Club (SSC) and find out who’s coming up next.
If you’d like to read the comments for this tasting, or make a comment yourself, visit:
Here’s a sampling of our lively discussion from our Bianca Bosker Video Chat:
Bianca Bosker is an award-winning journalist and the author of the New York Times bestseller CORK DORK: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste, which has been hailed as the “KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL of wine.”
She has written about food, wine, architecture, and technology for The New Yorker online, The Atlantic, The New York Times, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and The New Republic, among other publications.
She previously authored ORIGINAL COPIES, the first definitive account of China’s “duplitecture” movement and a critically acclaimed exploration of China’s copy culture. Described as “fascinating” by the New York Review of Books, ORIGINAL COPIES (University of Hawaii Press/Hong Kong University Press, 2013) continues to be featured in leading publications and was selected as a Book of the Year Award finalist by Foreword Reviews, in addition to being named one of Gizmodo’s Best Books of the Year.
Bosker co-founded The Huffington Post’s tech section and served as the site’s Executive Tech Editor until 2014. Her writing has been recognized with multiple awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, as well as the Society of Professional Journalists.
Though her arm swing is a bit rusty, she is also the co-author of a cultural history of bowling, Bowled Over: A Roll Down Memory Lane (Chronicle Books: 2002).
She grew up in Portland, Oregon, graduated from Princeton University, and currently lives in New York City. Her lesser-known exploits include training alongside butlers in Chengdu, obsessively collecting graphic novels, and pairing wines with takeout (see #pairdevil).
I mean a real sneak peak behind the scenes. Well that’s exactly what our next guest is going to reveal for us, she’s got some fantastic stories, some insider tips. She’s a superb writer, New York Times bestseller, author, bestselling author and we’re going to hear from her soon. I’m Natalie MacLean, editor of Canada’s largest wine review site at NatalieMacLean.com and you have joined us here on the Sunday Supper Club where we gather every week, Sundays at 6:00 p.m. that’s Toronto, New York time, Eastern to talk to the most intriguing people in the Wine World.
Now before I get going everybody, in the comments below, I would like to hear from you, yes or no, have you ever heard of or read our guest’s book which is The Cork Dork. So I just want to know how familiar you are with our guest. Just post yes or no, let me know you can see and hear us, all of that good stuff as we get going here tonight. Alright and let me just post that comment down below as well so that you know, alright we’ve got people piling in already, excellent.
Alright, so she’s here. Our guest this evening is the author of the New York Times bestseller Cork Dork. Let me read this, I love this subtitle. A wine field adventure among the obsessive sommeliers, big bottle hunters and rogue scientists who taught me to live for taste, love that. It’s been described as the kitchen confidential of wine if you remember Anthony Bourdain’s book. She has written about food, wine, architecture and technology for the New Yorker Online, The Atlantic, The New York Times, Food and Wine Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The New Republic, among many other publications. And she joins me here live from her home in New York city, welcome Bianca Booker.
Thanks, thanks for having me, what a wonderful way to spend a Sunday evening.
Excellent, we always have fun and we are so glad you are here with us Bianca and I am just, everybody is, oh, we’ve got people who have read your book. Excellent, Stephen Andrews. Alright Stephen Andrews has read your book. Laurie, okay Martin has heard of it but not yet read it, yet is the key phrase. Beverly Booker\ is just saying yes, I guess yes to everything. Yes to wine, yes I can hear you, just yes, yes, yes, yes as in Molly Bloom. Let’s see Paul Hollander, I’ve not had the opportunity to read the book. Well Paul, this is your excuse because this woman has got some great stories to tell. Bianca I just gave you a high level intro there. Fill in the details of anything I’ve left out, maybe tell us something that would surprise us about you.
Yeah well, well first of all thank you all for being here. I can’t see you unfortunately but you and Natalie, I’m so excited to be here. Your thoughts, your questions and thank you those of you who read the book, thank you. And for those of you who are interested about it, thank you. I write in the hopes that people read what I have written and it just means so much to me that you’re here to learn a little bit more about this journey and hopefully drink with us. I don’t know if anyone, I’m looking at a bunch of bottles of wine right now.
Maybe you are as well.
But yeah so I would maybe start with some background which is that I was not a wine connoisseur when I started. I liked wine, I was curious about wine but I had spent five years as the executive tech editor at The Huffington Post and my journey into wine started when I discovered the world of cork dorks. And Cork Dork is not just a book title, it is the restaurant industry’s nick name for the most obsessed and knowledgeable wine lovers among them and it happened when I discovered something called the best sommelier in the World Competition which if you’ve never seen it is essentially the Westminster Dog Show with.
I love that description. This is part of the gorgeous prowess that you have, your way of capturing that, that’s fantastic.
Yeah I mean think about these well groomed specimens walking in a circle, very high stakes and it was for me this introduction. I’d always thought of wine as a thing of pleasure but I realized that there is this world of cork dorks who turn it into something almost approaching pain. They lick rocks to train their palates, they divorce their spouses to spend more time studying and I was really intrigued to know why, why would people spend all this time and money and effort on something that at the end of the day turns into expensive pee. And I think there was also something, tech is a very, I mean we’re doing the best we can here but tech is sterile, it’s very two dimensional and this world of wine is about taste and smell and it’s like neglected senses and physical pleasures and I wanted to know, what was I missing and so I quit my job, started over as a cellar rat which is the lowest of the low and from there started training to become a sommelier and so Cork Dork is, Natalie your book was about a journey from grape to glass. I consider cork dork the journey from glass to gullet. So not really about making wine.
I love it.
But really the connoisseurs, the culture, the science of taste, all of these really the wild obsessive world of connoisseurship in all it’s different forms.
That’s fantastic, you are full of sound bites, very intelligent sounds bites. Now your book has been described, quite, it’s an honor, as the kitchen confidential of the wine world. We know kitchen confidential for the diehards here, Anthony Bourdain, insider look at the restaurant world. So why do you think your book was described like that?
Well I think that it is, it’s really this in-depth personal look that I think, often times, with the wine world, I think that there is a script that has worked very well for a very long time and that is heavy on the romance and the tradition and the fairy tale and I think Cork Dork pulls back the curtain on parts of the Wine World that we haven’t heard as much about and to me the reality is so much messier and more complicated than a romantic, more romantic fairy tale that we tend to hear about with wine. And so I think that that’s part of it. As it is the words, it’s some of the things that, but it’s also I think still about the soul and at the end of the day, what is the mystery and the beauty and the pleasure which to me really this, I learned a mindset in a glass of wine that doesn’t stop at the table that has really changed the way I experience music, my own work, the walks through the central park in New York. So yeah but I think it’s really that first person element. I mean I was dissecting cadavers, neuroscientists, I was working for Michelin star restaurants. So there’s that very immersive quality I think it’s perhaps.
Absolutely, absolutely, you’re the George Clinton of the wine world. So George Clinton was a journalist, I’m sure you are aware Bianca. But it was back in the 60s or 70s and whatever he wrote about he would do. So he became a football player, he did everything, to get those deeper more colorful insights, to really feel what this was like. So you’re combining him with the elegance of talking in paragraphs of The New Yorker. So you’ve got the betweening of both worlds, which is amazing. So let me just go over the comments ’cause they’re flowing by, which is lovely. So on Facebook, we’ve got comments. Lise Charest Gagne has joined, Erin Ganye has joined us. Hello we’re enjoying Rose from Malivort, excellent. Ellen McDonald, hello there Ellen. And Lori Kilmartin, Bianca I’m drinking a Prince Edward County Casa-Dea Pinot Noir with my mushroom stuffed pork roast in the oven. Lori is always making me hungry every Sunday night.
That sounds amazing. You know it’s funny I was just, so I grew up in Oregon but this summer I was in Vancouver Island and it was just one of the most beautiful places in the planet and I drank nothing except Canadian wines and they just blew my mind. They were so so good and unfortunately we don’t find, New York’s a pretty amazing wine market. I mean you can find Georgian wines, Lebanese wines and Israeli wines, I mean many wines throughout the place but not as many Canadian wines as I would like. It’s such a treat to be able to try some phenomenal, Riesling, some Pinot Noir, there’s a completely difference of, but beautiful character to them.
Absolutely, glad you enjoy them. So the problem quote, unquote with VC wines is they’re, 90% of it is consumed within the province. They know when they have a good thing going so they’re not going anywhere else. So yeah it’s true New York is sort of one of those wine hubs where you can get anything but yeah the–
But that’s also part of the pleasure I think, it’s to be able to, I do love driving throughout the US and it’s really amazing to be able to drink New Mexican wine in New Mexico or, Texas wine some of them are better than others but there’s something really special about in a time where there’s so much that we can have at our finger tips to have some really rare pleasures that are only available there. It’s the hunt.
And I really think it is.
Yes it’s the hunt and it’s also consuming the geography in the place it was born like really putting yourself in that place, looking at what’s around, consuming it and having it touch all your sensory nodes if you will and really remembering that wine for what it was because of where you were.
Which is a great argument for really tuning in to these, again forgotten senses of taste and smells, I think that we only have five senses to make sense of the world, And I think we tend to sort of dismiss two of them and we, part of what we get from, I think wine again can be this entry point into this mindset and part of what wine teaches us is how to listen to our nose. And if you think about it growing up we’re taught to identify the sounds of animals, the colors, but we don’t ever really learn how to put words on smells and the only way that we really internalize something is by doing that, so it’s like learning a new language right.
And I think that when you do that, the memories do become sharper and crisper. I think that we can pick up on neglected information nuanced in the world around us and there’s also beauty that exists that I think passes us by otherwise.
Oh it’s so well, listen to our noses and then put words to it, some great nuggets of information there Bianca, I love the way you talk. And I don’t want to miss anybody ’cause I can only see five comments at a time and then they fly off Facebook like a New York Central, whatever, square, ticker tape, it’s like they’re gone quickly. So if I miss your comment folks, post it again. I should just take a moment to say you’re joining us here in the Sunday Supper Club with Bianca Bosker, a New York Times bestseller, The Cork Dork. Yes there she is, there is the book, excellent, good timing. You really need to get it, I listened to it through my iPod, I loved it, I loved it, a gorgeous prose.
And so fun, so fun. New stories that I haven’t heard and I’m jaded, and I’ve been in this business, so you’ve got a fresh take. But let me get to the comments before they disappear. Here we go. Kaitlyn Malon, hi Bianca, Katelyn and Natalie here. Wine students at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Love your book, our main inspiration, hopefully we can discuss wine with you someday and then they just disappeared, okay I got to keep reading. One second before I get the, Rachel O’ Connor.
I would love that, that would be amazing.
Yes yes yes, absolutely. Rachel O’ Connor. Hi Bianca, what was the most memorable wine you enjoyed during your stay in Canada? Excellent. So do you have a comment on that.
I would have to look them up actually. Let me try and find it for you.
I know it’s there’s so many, that’s okay in the background.
I usually remember, I would say that the, I do really remember, I’m a big Riesling fan, actually I have here a Riesling, tonight.
So do I, because you recommended it.
And I have to confess, I haven’t had Canadian Riesling.
Riesling, oh yeah.
And so for me, and it makes sense, I think the, think about the climate here, why not? That was something I really remember being a revolution, it’s always fun to try a new Riesling.
I don’t know if you tried–
But I’ll look for it, I’ll try and respond if the comments are there somewhere I’ll come back.
That’s okay I know there are so many wines in the world but Tantalus or Blue Mountain or, I don’t know if any of those names ring a bell.
Anyway that’s okay. Let’s say Elaine Bruce says, wine is beautiful and I love your descriptions Bianca.
They are just loving you. Stephen Andrews, do you still stay in touch with Morgan? Someone’s read your book. So the Sherpa of her book is Morga Ferris is it?
Harris. So he is the real die out Som in your book, he’s fascinating.
Morgan’s amazing, I mean his passion and love and knowledge just sucked me in from the get go and yeah we are absolutely still in touch, we had dinner just a couple of weeks ago. I got to celebrate his birthday with him which was so exciting. And of course we had some amazing wines, a great, I think there was a Grower Champagne to bring in his new year. But he’s great, we should all be sucked in. If you come to New York go to Aureole and see him, I think he’ll be really thrilled.
He’s still there is he at Aureole.
Do they still have the Wine Angels there? Or they do that in Las Vegas only maybe.
Las Vegas. Yes, although Wine Angels and this somehow is making me think about Victoria Secret Models and Morgan and wine at the same time.
No not to mix those images.
I think that in Las Vegas that they have like a big huge wine cellar that goes vertically.
And they do pulleys and they go up, up, up, they don’t have wings but they kind of do–
They’re not wearing lingerie.
No. It’s more mission impossible.
Less Victoria Secret, where they go hunt for a wine up there. But you know what, I think it’s probably in that old brick building that I remember going to Aureole in New York, they would not have room for that pulley system.
Well yeah, now in Time Square but there is um.
Oh it’s in Time Square.
I need to get back there. Gosh, gosh, gosh, gosh. Okay Morgan yeah he was quite the character, I loved his portrayal. Neil Phillips says Riesling would lean to Ontario over at BC, okay Neil.
Okay Neil, I appreciate that.
Alright, yeah. And Katelyn Malone, we just returned from a trip to Bordeaux, what do you think about the trend in Bordeaux wines. So I don’t know if you have a comment on that or not.
What do you mean the trend.
The trend, I don’t know what you mean there Katelyn, if you can clarify that question for us in the comments I’ll re-read your clarification when you get there, I don’t know if you mean that they’re going up in price or what’s trending on their taste or whatever but Bianca back to you. So Kitchen Confidential of, I also found it a really, not to diminish the gorgeous,
gorgeous prose but also a gossipy grade book. Like I love the gossip and the Real Housewives of New York sommeliers kind of thing that was going on. The insider look. So do people really have acronyms and have little note codes, notes versions for their wine heavy hitters, when they come to the restaurant, they know kind of what to serve them or how much they’re going to spend.
Yes so what Natalie is referring to, if most of you who haven’t read the book is, I did a stage or portrayal, an apprenticeship at New Royal which is a two Michelin star restaurant and also at Aureole actually here in New York. And it forever changed the way I eat out of restaurants and one of the things that was really a revolution is the fact that many of these high end restaurants are really judging you even more than you’re judging them and they’re Googling you before you come in, they’re keeping extensive logs on what you’ve ordered, your pet peeves, personal preferences, your relationship with the restaurant, and dining history and if you spend a lot of money, you could be a wine PX, which is short of Personne Extrodinaire and a whole hell of a lot of money, you might be labeled a PPX, which is Personne Particularment Extrodinaire. If you throw a temper tantrum you might be an HWC, which is short for Handle With Care or a SOE, which is sense of entitlement. But I think that uh, we have a lot of those in New York. But I think that there, so yes, there is this, I think that it is, there is a logic to it which I explore, on the surface it can seem perhaps mercenary but really there is, first of all they are businesses I mean wine helps, liquid keeps restaurants liquid so I think when you’re spending a lot of money on wine, in some ways it’s the progressive tax rate of the restaurant world. Everyone spends the same amount in salads, some people spend more on bottled wine and you help keep the lights on and that’s great but there’s also an emotional, really what a sommelier does it’s not just about delivering calories, it’s about, understanding what your guest wants emotionally and psychologically from the meal and to me there is actually a great beauty and care and respect that comes from service so it is more, it may be a, I think that there is a deeper story to it than might meet the eye.
Absolutely and I’ve heard it’s said that, the sommelier doesn’t sell the bottle to the customer, the sommelier sells the customer to the customer. That you’re worth this, this is who you are and not in a manipulative way but just I see you and I think this is you with the wine, and of course the old adage is, customers will eat you poor and drink you rich. The margin is all in the liquids, not just the wine, but the coffee, the water, et cetera, that’s what keeps the overhead going right.
Yeah but I think that there is, obviously wines get marked up and I think that before I spent time in the restaurant world training and working as a Som, I mean, I would feel a little had sometimes that this bottle I would sort of think well, there is like 3X markup so I could have ordered for less if I was drinking it, if I got it from my retail store in the corner and in reality sometimes you can’t find those bottles at a retail store and the other piece of it is, if you believe in the function that restaurants, the role that restaurants play, be it in creating a culture, creating a neighborhood, creating an experience, in ordering that coffee, that tea, that bottle of wine, you’re helping to make it possible. I mean these are low margin businesses for the most part.
I think that when you’re spending, that actually what you might spend on a bottle of wine, that’s paying for the staff’s wages, it’s paying for the insurance, it’s paying for the rent, the napkins they used that night so you shouldn’t feel had, I do think you should feel good if you believe in the value of restaurants you should feel good that you’re helping to support these small businesses.
Absolutely, restaurants restoratives, absolutely. So people are trying to–
Which is by the way, there is a private cork dork about the history of restaurants and the restaurants, the actual original word came from the French restaurateur which is a soup so originally a restaurant, a restaurateur was a restoring sort of broth that was served in restaurants that were really invented this for a long time. But it wasn’t a place that you could go out and order, from a variety of options on the menu. You would go one place for chicken, one place for beef, one place for your bread and it really emerged in right around pre-revolutionary France. So yeah I don’t know if that’s what you were referring to with the restorative but in fact the origins of the word come from a restorative broth that would be served in these institutions.
I’m sort of referring to that, but I’m thinking more Pinot Noir is restorative.
Ah, ah well, all of the above.
Skip the broth, give me Pinot Noir. So again the comments have been flying by, so I’m not, they’re all trading acronyms now. Passion for wine, PFW, I don’t know what you people are talking about. CMW, they’re all friendly but they’re all just trading acronyms.
I like that.
And the discussion has gone off in another direction. Rick Dalderis joins us, wine dork checking in from Las Gatos California, cheers. Hey Rick, thanks for joining us. Neil Philips, PFW, what is that. Passion for wine, cheers, nice Elaine, Elaine’s out in Calgary. Okay folks come back to us, now. Bianca I want to get back into this because there’s just so much in your book that I absolutely love so you binged watch the Som competition and so you found that some soms were licking rocks to tell that, does that really give you a taste or a, I don’t know, a description for a feeling, not a feeling, do you lock in the aroma memory of rocks based on red slate, blue slate, by licking them.
So there were sommeliers that basically, that was their training regimen. Others didn’t buy it, and I think that really the key thing there and I’ve tried it, I mean I have done it. Partially because I wanted to fact check tasting notes. You hear a lot of soms talk about a wet stone minerality to wine. Where, maybe a wine it smells like potting soil, well if you want to smell potting soil in a wine, you got to smell potting soil in potting soil.
I think that what that really speaks to is this broader idea that you need to develop your sense’s memory. So this goes back to this idea of savoring taste and smell, of learning to attach meaning to odors and so I turned to soms like Morgan to be my mentors but also master perfumers, sensory scientists and if you’re interested in doing it for yourself what I would suggest is, this is advice that I’ve received, start smelling everything around you and describing its smell. So it’s like take some notes for your shampoo in the morning. What are you smelling, is it maybe a little of artificial passion fruit, is it artificial green apple perhaps, this is my shampoo. Describe like black pepper, I talked a lot about Sowa smelling like black pepper, when you’re putting black pepper in your food at night, smell it, describe it. Again it’s like learning a new vocab, learning a new language, but instead of putting meaning on a sound, you’re putting meaning on an odor. And so I think that that’s where that mentality comes from and they’re soms, why not, it might help you.
Licks rocks yes, just depends on where you are. I’ve advised people to smell their leather, leather furniture, but just make sure no one’s looking. It’s like you’re going to be carted off somewhere if you’re sniffing your furniture. But it’s true, if you cut vegetables and fruit open, that’s when they are the most pungent, smell them. As you’re preparing to cook or to serve dinner, cut it open, that’s when you’re going to get the, develop that aroma vocabulary and remember it in your mind.
And as it changes. I mean I have, some soms that I taste with my blind tasting groups that would, Quince for example, Quince comes up a lot as a tasting And a way to master it when it smell, Quince would first spot it in more unripe and then puts it in a charter then he might actually cook the fruit. You’re talking about apple right, what’s a fresh apple, what’s a bruised apple, does it change, is that just blurry. I mean I think if you think about tasting notes, and I also talk about the history of tasting notes in Cork Dork because they are not as traditional as they seem, they came up early around the 70s. And so I think that if you hear soms talking about the smell of baked apple, bake an apple. That’s a great way to figure out if you could know the difference.
Absolutely, absolutely, so this has been not a dry conversation so far but one without wine Bianca. So where shall we start, I think you suggested a dry Riesling from an Old World country that was older. What I have, and it can’t exactly match your New York selection but I have Cuvee D’Albert from 2002, Alsace which I know is going to be dry as opposed to a German Riesling not that Germany doesn’t produce dry Rieslings. That’s what I have, what do you have?
So I am drinking a 2016 Keller.
And it is a dry Riesling, it’s from Rheinhessen. Now there I actually shared it this afternoon at lunch as you who have read Cork Dork you know I’ve spent, I used to spend a lot of weekday mornings drinking a lot of wine. And it’s funny now actually, on the weekends I usually take it a little bit slower because it’s, there’s still a pleasure that I get, I get a ton, I get an inordinate amount of pleasure from drinking wine. But there is, it’s not every Sunday that I’m opening up a bottle in the day time but this is a special day and so this, it’s a really, really, lovely German Riesling, I’m enjoying mine very much.
Absolutely and so I’m just coming back, Gwen Barton welcome. Loving the color of mine, I know Bianca you can’t see everything I’m doing here ’cause I’ve got a mic in the way but I’ve got a deep golden hue to mine which I’m showing to the camera because it is 2002, it is still fresh and vibrant and dry and it’s gorgeous, I’m glad you made me go down to my cellar and seek this out because I probably would have left it too long. But the, of course it’s aged so it’s deepening in it’s colour but it is just so, still so lovely.
Lucky you that sounds amazing.
Just come on over. So your bottle Bianca, can you show it right in front of your camera there, your camera all again so we can see it. So it’s Keller, got ya. And lift it up a little bit, it’s German, got ya. Okay alright so that’s what we’re tasting here tonight. Okay and so.
Yeah cheers, absolutely.
And cheers to all of you that are here, I don’t know if you guys are drinking but I hope it’s something–
Yeah so post in the comments below if you’re drinking. Actually let me just make that a Segway here before we get into this Bianca because I want to tell everybody that, take a moment right now if you’re enjoying this chat to share this video, share it with your friends or whomever, make a comment and then next week we will choose someone who has shared the video, made a comment to get a copy of Bianca’s book, which is amazing. At the end of this video, I need to pick two winners because I have been lapse so last week’s guest was Janet Fletcher, Wine and Cheese and the week before that was Mike Veseth We talked about Around the World in 80 Wines. We are going to be drawing for both of those books and while you’re at it, click on follow so you know when we go live. So but back to the wine, right, back to the wine. So this is just a gorgeous dry wine that I’ve got and you’ve got a slightly younger wine and I’m looking at the comments Neil. Okay so beautiful gold says Elaine and Neil Philips, an old favorite, Stephen what are you drinking, they’re talking amongst themselves, which I always enjoy. So Bianca did this, did a old or mature dry Riesling play some part in your book.
So I have had some incredible wines that I, always a pleasure. I think that there is, I often times might look at a list and go off with age and I think it’s so special for those of you who haven’t tried older wines. You don’t have to be a break the bank sort of extravagance and sometimes I actually look for wines, I may not know that much about the producer but just for that culture of trying some of these different odors that evolve in wine as they get older, it’s such a pleasure. But yeah actually I’d say Riesling played a big part in that journey. I ended up working for Paul Greco.
He’s a Canadian, he’s a Canadian.
He’s a Canadian yes. So Paul Greco runs a restaurant called Terroir and he is the self-described overlord of the Riesling. And he has, he used to do what’s called the summer, he still does the summer of Riesling, but he used to have a more militant summer of Riesling where he would essentially serve not a single white wine by the glass if it wasn’t Riesling. So if you came into the restaurant and wanted a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, it was sort of like, F U, here’s a Riesling. If you wanted a Chardonnay, F U here’s a Riesling. He wanted to champion what he considered a really forgotten, a bit of a maligned underdog of a grape and I think that there is very much this misconcep, I mean Riesling has enjoyed great popularity among sommeliers, it has generally higher acid, soms tend to refer to themselves as acid hounds. It’s desire, I think acid can sound like a negative thing in wine but really that’s so much of what gives it this interesting zing and character and so it’s a good thing. If you don’t know how to taste acid in wine, take the wine, take a sip of it. I’m not going to do it now because I’m talking. Swallow it with the tip of your tongue and the roof of your mouth and then lean forward so your face is parallel to the floor and ask yourself if you opened your mouth right now would you droll and the more you feel you’re going to droll, the higher the acid in the wine because we respond to acid. Anyway so Paul, yeah I think Riesling gets forgotten especially here in the US, people tend to assume that it’s sweet and I think they’re missing out on the wonderful, I mean it’s just that there’s a lot going on in a glass of Riesling. I mean some of them smell like gas stations in the best of the world, they have an acquired taste sometimes but so I like to go with Riesling ’cause I think that it’s got zing, it’s got attitude which are also qualities that I think would describe a cork dork.
Yes, and you, and you as well, you have zing and interesting. It’s great absolutely.
Rieslings are very near and dear to my heart.
Yes, and does Paul Greco still operate Hearth as well.
So he, they split actually. I mean they’re still, he’s not there now but he did, Hearth is another restaurant. If you guys come to New York in the East Village, that’s still there, so it’s still going strong but Paul is not
I need to visit his new restaurant then because I have been to Hearth but not the new one. That is so amazing. Okay so Elaine Bruce who’s a WSE WSET says Riesling is such a diverse a grape style so interesting your conversation. Lea says she’s about to open a Red Stone Riesling with her shrimp Scampy it’s going to be great. Paul Hollander–
You guys are making some really wonderfully ambitious Sunday night meals, I’m so impressed.
I know. We get sat at the table an iPad usually, like we’re a third person at the table, I love this. We’re like two–
I wish I actually was.
I know, I know so we’ll be talking heads at their dinner tables but it’s so fun. Paul Hollander says Patty and I are having the 2012 Orin Swift Abstract okay with Cincinnati Chili. Bob Levesque says some amazing Niagara Rieslings. Absolutely Bob. Alright and Lise Charest, we can cook while we watch this, yes you can. And that’s what we do, we get people warmed up for the Sunday night dinner. Okay so we’re onto that. So maybe tell us a little bit about La Paulee, the wine orgy for the rich.
So once I had worked, once I’d done my stage at New Royal, I got very interested in really understanding the experience and psychology of collectors. These wine PX’s, what was it that people who are not sommeliers, what is it that brings them to wine, what is the pleasure they get from a great bottle of wine. And so as part of my deep dive into this, I went to what is really the most extravagant gathering of wine collectors on the planet or so it was described to me. Which is called La Paulee, and it’s this gathering of Burgundy aficionados, takes place every other year in New York. And if you can imagine, the grand event is a gala dinner that is a $1500 BYOB dinner. And you’re expected to bring treasures from your cellar. And basically there is this sort of accepted rule that no matter who you are, whatever you bring should hurt a little bit. And so if you are the head of an investment bank, well that’s a particular kind of pain. And if you’re an aspiring sommelier, journalist, that’s a different kind of pain and let’s just say that it was, I mean, as one sommelier put it to me who was there, it’s like having thousands of pounds of Foie gras shoveled in your face. It is over the top, it is excess, it is drunken, there are chefs crowd surfing, men being totally inappropriate, it’s everything. But I think for me it was also ultimately a fascinating glimpse into this very complicated question of what we really experience when we experience a bottle of wine. And I think that there is, I’m sure you’ve read these kind of gotcha studies about how wine experts can’t tell the difference between a red wine and a white wine.
And to me what La Paulee is illustrative of is the fact that people can taste a bottle of wine with this flavor, our experience of it, it’s not just taste and smell, it is this composite of taste and smell, expectation, price, who we’re drinking the wine with, what the color of the room is, the music that’s playing and in a way that we don’t realize I think a lot of us don’t grasp, we are deeply multisensory creatures which means that price is a spice, sounds can have tastes, colors can affect flavor and I think that it’s important to be aware of those like if you really want to taste objectively, I think it’s critical that we become aware of the way that these different inputs influence us and on the other hand I think that there are times when we can let ourselves enjoy a bottle of wine because it’s, it is just special. For example when Cork Dork hit the bestseller list, when I was at La Paulee, there was a woman whose seatmate asked her if a wine could ever be better than sex. And her answer was, without even pausing for a second, Vega Cicilia. And I was like okay, I have to try that wine and so when Cork Dork hit the New York Times bestseller list, my husband and I celebrated with a bottle of Vega Cicilia and well I came to that wine with very high expectations, it was not an expensive, it was a special wine and in that moment, I think I did sort of allow myself to suspend disbelief. I was definitely aware, I mean it was an incredible wine but I was certainly, you know I really let myself just enjoy that experience, and of course again I think I was biased by the occasion and the price and the label and the expectations and, but in that moment, that was the perfect experience to have.
Wow, so was it orgasmic?
Well I don’t know if I would go that far.
But it was, but it was as close as you can get from a bottle of wine I guess.
Excellent, that’s a good wine, we’re all going to hunt it down. So yes, absolutely, so. Lee says wine is art, it’s all in the experience and the personal senses on the particular day, it’s magic. Liz wants to know where that BYOB event is, we will post that link in the comments below Lee so to let you–
San Francisco and New York, in alternating years.
It’s an amazing experience so absolutely, we will get that to you. So let’s see now, what do you think after all of this that you’ve done Bianca, what is the rule of the sommelier, what do you think the most important thing is for the sommelier to do?
Well I think, that’s a great question. I think that it, to me a, I think sommeliers are deeply first of all misunderstood. You know we live in this sort of celebrity chef kind of cult light where, I think chefs have become really celebrated because in some ways they are the ones that play with knives, they have flames, they’re the sexy bad boys of the restaurant world. And in fact I think we’re beginning to see the dark side to that. I mean you’ve seen at least here in the States, and perhaps in Canada as well, that, the real toll that that takes whether it’s in terms of sexual harassment in the workplace and the sort of physical and psychological toll that that takes in people that are working in the industry but I think at the same time we have soms who operate in very geeky form of, it’s much more nuanced kind of tension, they have flashcards, they memorize the weather 30 years ago and from the outside they can seem like nerds but to me they’re kind of the Olympic geniuses of the restaurant world where what they do looks deceptively easy because it has to, the point is for it to be elegant. To me, I think as part of that we underestimate sommeliers and to me the most important thing, is that they’re storytellers, they are creating an experience through flavors in a glass and in a literal way I mean again they’re, that, their probably literal function of course, in terms of helping keeping restaurants afloat but to me, what Morgan helped me see is the way that a sommelier it’s a type of performance. This is, it is very much a skill and a service that can really like I think what one of the commenters was saying, it has parallels with art, I think that the magic of a glass of wine is to mean much more predictably and with more consistency, a glass of wine can really nudge us into a place where we’re wondering about the world and our place in it, much more regularly than food can. And I think that I have next to me a bottle of wine from Slovenia, I have a bottle of wine from my native state of Oregon plus Germany. And there’s something really magical about this ability to travel through time and space in a glass. I can smell the smells of Slovenia, I can smell the smells of Oregon through these bottles and you can return in a way to 2002 in that beautiful Amber colored Riesling that you have in front of you.
It’s true, it’s true. Okay so you sort of got to it, I’m going to push the point. Why can wine get you there faster than food, is it because of the age-ability, you can go back in time with a bottle as opposed to a Sauerkraut that’s right here, right now and that’s all you’re going to get.
Well I think that wine has a sensory complexity that to me you know it’s more, I guess it, I would say that perhaps more, it has a sensory complexity that’s more complex than food at times.
I think so.
And I think that that’s, what I think is so powerful about a glass of wine is, when I think about, so I’m a big, again obviously proponent of smell. And I think that a lot of us think that what we do with a wine is, we should drink it. And it’s true, we do drink it. But if you’re just drinking wine and you’re not taking that time to really relish the smell, you’re missing so much of the nuance of it and I think that a smell as, many of you know is one of the most emotional senses, it’s sort of one’s most tied to memory and so I think that, when I say that it can really nudge us into a place where we’re questioning our place in the world, I think for me at least that often comes, because a good glass of wine. Well first of all I think that every glass of wine has a story to tell. And some of those stories are not that interesting and some of those stories might be interesting because you’re smelling the smells of a foreign place you’ve never been to before. Perhaps you’re smelling 1949 France or perhaps you’re smelling a glass of wine that for reasons you can’t quite explain at first they’re making you think of a hike you took with your cousin through the forest or it’s making you think about a particular summer you may have spent on the coast of Massachusetts. I think that there is, wine has this ability to speak to us in a way that is both physical and intellectual. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t always have to be that experience. There’s also times where you open up a glass of wine and it’s more about the people that you’re sharing with perhaps than it is about the liquid in the glass, I think that’s okay too. It doesn’t always have to be total abandon.
Absolutely. So we’ve got some great comments. Laurie says every glass of Prosecco takes me back to Verona and when she was there. Rick Del Darris quotes, a bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all of the books in the world, Louis Pasteur. This is a very literary crowd. Lise Charest Gagne says I’m looking forward to reading this book over the holidays by the fire with some wine.
Cheers, that sounds like heaven.
Yeah that sounds like a good plan Liz. Okay so now we’ve done the Alsace, let’s, I can’t believe it’s already quarter to two, we’ve already been 45 minutes but let’s get to the wines you suggested so shall we go to Oregon or Lebanon first.
Well let’s start with Oregon, what are you taking?
Okay I have got Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir which I love and what we’ve got up here in our availability and it is spectacular, it is medium body, it’s smooth, supper, what have you got, you’ve got Teutonic something right?
Teutonic is a phenomenal wine, I had it on Saturday night but tonight, I’m actually experimenting with something, this is a new wine for me. It’s Harper Voit is the one, I’ll come show it to you guys. I’ve never tried this before, it’s a Pinot Blanc, from Willamette Valley but sometimes Surlie.
So we got the Harper Voit, alright Pinot Blanc.
Right and it’s cool. I think that Paul, going back to Paul, one of my wine mentors. He used to make people promise to never drink the same wine twice and to me there is a logic to that, I think that sort of like books, well, I mean there was no kind of asterisk when he said it but you can add one if you really want one. But I was just going to say I think that there is, it’s sort of like books, there’s more books than you’ll ever get through in a life time.
But we have certain books that we return to year after year and they change each time, or we change in relation to them.
Yeah. But at the same time why not experiment and so for this wine, I mean I am often times, you really just need two pieces of information to get a great wine and it’s what do you want to spend and what flavors do you want. And so I got this wine, basically, went to one of my local wine stores and so this is my budget, I want something from Oregon, let’s have an adventure.
That’s great, great attitude.
Yeah just a fun one.
Just experiment with it.
Absolutely, Bianca can you post your Pinot Noir, we’re somewhat Pinot Noir addicts here. So I will send you the link Bianca there, you can post and follow up with questions and comments here because you’ve got a really dedicated, die hard group here.
Well for those of you if you like Pinot Noir, try Teutonic, makes some really cool Pinot Noirs from Oregon and I’ve also been very into German Pinot Noir recently.
Yes me too.
So if you haven’t tried that, I think it’s a great bang for the buck and it has similar qualities to some Burgundian Pinot Noir.
That edgy acidity, that’s part Burgundar.
Yeah, yes but not nearly as expensive, so.
Right, exactly, exactly. So we’re going to post all those things down here below and just while we have a moment here as we’re coming into our final 10 minutes. Share this video folks, if you want to be eligible to get a copy of Bianca Bosker’s book The Cork Dork, next week. Okay I got to come, she’s doing it. I got to come back to you there, awesome, you need to do that and post a comment and then you need to stay with us to see who won two weeks in a row, the comments, the shares for our guests last week and the week before. So click on follow and you will be all in line with that. So, Domaine Drouhin, I am loving this. Did that play a specific pivotal part or somewhat of a story in your book Bianca?
So I would say that for me, well Oregon, it’s more personal. I mean I think that, as I was saying that there is the visibility to sort of treat wine as and embrace wine as a way of time traveling, it’s real, I do sometimes when I’m getting homesick. I go and look for a bottle of very classic Oregon Pinot Noir because, it often has this earthly wet reef smell that I associate with my childhood and so I think there is, just for me at a personal level, it speaks to this idea of using wine to travel through time and space.
I love that, time travel through wine, I love it, I love it that that just encapsulates it. It’s so lovely.
It’s very transformative, I mean. One of the things that’s, wine is the, I think we often time return to it because it can be a bit of an escape and it brings people together. One of the things I love about wine, it’s, it’s almost impossible to rush it. You don’t take shots of wine when you it right. I mean it’s something that you linger, it’s social. As you get further down in the bottle, conversation flows and you know the more fluently it is.
Absolutely, there is no wine shots, I love that. It’s a slow drink, slow food, slow drink.
Did you once bring some sort of cup or vessel of chervil, am I pronouncing it right.
Did you bring that to a wine tasting and see, what did you do, just tell us.
Yes, so I made myself into a pain in the butt, I was, so as part of my training to, I was working towards taking the Court of Master Sommeliers, Certified Sommelier Exam. Sort of the gold standard for working the floor. And as part of that training, I was able to embed myself with a number of different blind tasting groups that were run by aspiring master sommeliers and which meant I was tasting with people way above my level, which was great, it’s phenomenal mentorship. And when, it’s one weekend when it was my turn to captain the group, I was in charge of bringing the wines. But I also was curious because as I mentioned I got very interested in these tasting notes and then soms would be reciting the tasting notes for these wines, they would, wine would often seem, kind of like dubious embers I mean sometimes it sounded like a book of Wiccan love spells, baby’s breath, sweat, robitussin, desiccated pepper, pomegranate, chervil and chervil came up a lot and chervil I thought was maybe related to a rodent, so I wasn’t sure if it was like Gerbil, and chervil is of course, if you are better educated in herbs than I was, it’s an herb. And so I showed up with smell standards to basically see well, if these sommeliers smelled chervil in wine, surely they could smell chervil in chervil so I brought little just little cups, covered them with aluminum foil, poked holes in them. There were mushrooms in one, pomegranate seeds in another, grass, we had some chervil and they all, the performance when it came to blind tasting these odors was pretty hit and miss and that set me off on this quest to really understand how it is that we can be more precise in our language around smell and why that’s so important. And I would say it’s a great exercise. I mean I’m actually, I’m looking right now at something called the Naduvane which was a combination birthday, Christmas present from a couple of years ago when I was really in the midst of training my nose and what it recommends is basically these different aromas, essential oils, that mimic the common odors in wines so that you can begin to really train yourself to figure out what does lilac smell like, what does grass smell like. And so yeah get a friend and put yourself through those paces, blind smell, cinnamon, blind smell, black pepper, whatever you have in your spice cabinet to begin to really teach yourself to, it’s harder than you think I will say but it’s very critical if you want to pick up those odors and nuance in a glass of wine.
Absolutely, we are five to the hour so this has gone amazingly fast which is attributed to you Bianca so I’m going to go into the lightning round. I’m going to ask you quick questions, fast answers and then we’ll wrap up. So, she’s warming up. Okay so what is the best piece of wine advise you’ve ever received?
Hmmm. I think never try the same wine twice. That’s opened up, so it’s Paul’s advice, it’s opened up so many universes for me.
Absolutely, that’s fantastic. What is the one thing you were wrong about when it comes to making wine or about wine in general that you want to say right now.
I would say that starting, going into this process, I thought that you had to be, in order to blind taste wine, sort of pick up the nuances of chervil and gasoline in a wine that you have to be born a blood hound. There was some sort of genetic ability in being an Olympic athlete, that either you were born with it or you weren’t and in fact any of us can train ourselves to do it.
Fabulous, okay, if you could share one bottle of wine with anyone outside the wine world living or dead, who would that person be?
I would throw such a good dinner party but I’d invites lots of people.
Dead people right dead people. Populate your dinner table.
Yeah, I think, I mean I would give god knows what to have a glass of wine with Jean Jedian.
I think she’s really fascinating. And then with Cleopatra, she could join.
Oh right, okay, got ya but.
Yeah, why not.
You tell me why Cleopatra.
Wouldn’t she be so interesting.
I don’t know.
What would you ask her.
I’ve just always thought that ancient, growing up when I was little, I remember having an Egyptian themed birthday party, I just always loved ancient Egypt so, and strong women I guess.
What would you ask her?
I’d have to prepare a list of questions, like I need the journalist, I don’t know.
Oh fair enough, fair enough, ’cause I’m springing this on you at the last minute so got ya. That’s fun. If you could put up a billboard in whatever, downtown Manhattan, Toronto, wherever about wine, what would you say. Any billboard just do this.
Ah, what would you say, that’s such an interesting, it’s a good question.
Just keep trying, open your mind.
I would pick up and this is very much, this comes from Ann Nobel who’s the, really the Moses of tasting notes.
Most of, and that’s, the Moses, she wrote the sort of 10 commandments when it came to the language of wine but I would say, listen to your nose and drink adventurously but there would be really great drawings to go along with it, I don’t know.
I know diagrams and so on, I get ya, I’m springing this all on you right now.
It’s an interesting question.
Well, has there been any question, what’s the most interesting question you’ve ever been asked?
Well I would say, when I was doing a book event at a library and a lovely older lady came up to me and said I haven’t finished your book yet but I just have to know, are you and your husband still together. And then I turned out that many other people had a similar question.
Which was a little concerning but as I was recently at a lunch with an umbrella of book and wine lovers and some of them said, you sound like a real piece of work and your husband is a saint and he is a saint and he’s been so, I mean I have brought home some great wines with him from my tasting groups to share with him but he is indeed a saint, and we are still together and he’s maybe walking around in the back here somewhere. That question definitely caught me out of the blue, I didn’t realize how much of a piece of work I had seemed I suppose. So yeah. But they’re all good questions, I think I must say it’s so exciting just, and again I love the fact that wine can bring people together and it is such a thrill for me, I mean I got into this world because I’ve always been obsessed with obsession and no one does obsession like wine lovers and I’ve ended even more obsessed with the things that they obsessed over than I ever could have imagined and so now when people ask me questions about wine, as you can tell, I have a lot to talk about and I very much enjoy it.
That’s fantastic. Okay so second last, penultimate question. Have we missed anything you would like to mention?
I could talk your ear about this all night. I feel like we need to all now sit down for a dinner party together and really just continue this over, I think there was this amazing mushroom soup and the Cincinnati chili but I, no I think this has been such fine, I would say we didn’t talk about your last wine, so the Lebanese wine.
Oh I do, I do, I do, because you asked me to. So I’ve got a good, I’ve got to hold my wine up to the camera and I absolutely really, this is so wet wine, what do you have?
So who’s the producer.
It is Ksara, K-S-A-R-A.
Reserve. It’s a delicious full bodied red wine.
Do you have one with you.
I don’t have a Lebanese wine but I have a white, so I had mentioned Lebanon because Charivari where I worked had some phenomenal Lebanese wines and I think that oftentimes, this goes with this drink adventurously mindset. But yeah I often think that we go back to, well sommeliers would call them gimme wines and most private glass lists have a gimme wine, it’s the thing that’s so called because people say give it to me, I don’t care how much it costs. This familiar name brand, varietals, they’re a familiar name brand and wine patrons I think oftentimes feel a good chance of drinking really well, good bang for the buck, it’s go to that grape you’ve never heard of in the region you can’t pronounce and so I think to me Lebanon is, a lot of people don’t associate it with great wine and there’s some phenomenal wines. Similarly with that spirit, I have Movia.
Movia. Where’s that from.
From Slovenia. Which is, my mom’s side of the family is from Slovenia so again there is a personal connection for me and that’s part of the pleasure of it, it’s a fun wine, it’s interesting, it’s different, it’s a crowd pleaser, it’s also a good value, so figure it out, try, you never know, you don’t have to finish the bottle, you don’t have to have it again but I think that there is, for me, there’s just so many different flavors that I take such great pleasure from exploring and trying.
You’re amazing. Okay so seriously, your descriptions have been amazing.
So I am going to wrap up this description or this talk tonight even though the comments are still coming in Bianca, I will send you the link so that if you choose to comment and tell people where you’re at, how they can get your book, which I hope you do because they really should read and or listen to it like I did.
Yeah I got to read it which was very fun.
And it’s cool.
Yeah they should. So we’ll wrap up this and I will be here 10 more minutes on the chat here, but I want to thank you, this is fantastic.
You’re a gem and I honestly, honestly I look forward to seeing what you do in the world because you’re going to make a bright media trail of impact in the journalism world, not just wine, but journalism world, wherever you choose to go Bianca, we are going to see what you do and I look forward to being, to watching what you do.
Well thank you, I, that means a lot to me, I appreciate it, I will think back to that. I’m talking to you here form the desk where I wrote a lot of Cork Dork and so in my inevitably moments of doubt and desperation while writing, I will think back to that and your great confidence, so thank you. Thank you all of you for joining me, and joining us, and your great questions and your comments, I can’t wait to see them, I can’t see them right now but hopefully I will later and thank you all, it’s been such a pleasure, what a wonderful way to spend this Sunday evening, this is great, I hope all of you that are cooking some delicious things have a wonderful meal and I will be toasting to you from my own Sunday dinner.
Absolutely and we will all be reading your book so, fantastic, thanks Bianca.
Thank you, wonderful.
Good night. Alright, okay guys, so I’m still here and we’ve just, wasn’t that a great conversation and I’m just going over to refresh on Facebook so she is amazing and I’m just looking at the refreshed comments from Facebook. So I don’t have much more to add but I will look at what’s new on this, a wonderful evening, Paul says thank you to you both, her book will be on your gift list. Okay so anyway, guys I’m going to wrap up tonight because we’ve had a great session tonight and we are already past the one hour mark. I love her, she’s 30 and she has so much potential and I want to support her in everyway that I can because I see her as the voice of the industry going forward and pick up her book, read it or listen to it on iPod, but you need to do one or the other because she’s a talent, a rising talent who needs to be listened to. Alright, I will say good night for now and I will see you next week. Oh wait a minute, I keep forgetting to announce the winners of our past, draws for free books. So I need to look at my list. So guys the person who won the draw for Janet Fletcher’s Cheese and Wine book, pairing book, is Sam Hawk, he’s given me the pronunciation, Sam Hawk. He’s out in BC, he teaches wine courses, Sam Hawk. He has won the book on Janet Fletcher’s Wine and Cheese book or Cheese and Wine as she probably puts it. The person who has won the book on Mike Veseth’s Around the World in 80 Wines, perhaps you are already a follower, student or disciple of Mike but that’s what he is and you’re getting a free copy of Mike Veseth’s group book, Around the World in 80 wines. That’s Alan Sap, Alan Sap. So those are the two winners from tonight’s group or discussion. We will draw for the winner of tonight’s discussion next week, alright so, keep sharing, you know what to do to qualify to win, I’m looking at my notes, it’s all good and this was as always very fun, so I will see you next week. Peter Lehmann Wines, Australia, we’re going to have so much fun, it’s great wine, I will send you or link to some more info in the interim. Good night.