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Cork Dork

The Independent‘s 2017 Book of the Year and a 2020 London Eater recommended read for lockdown

‘If Malcolm Gladwell were to write a book about wine, the results wouldn’t linger much more pleasurably on the palate than this accessible, adventurous, amusing and informative book by Bianca Bosker’ –
The Times

Professional journalist and amateur drinker Bianca Bosker didn’t know much about wine – until she discovered the world of elite sommeliers who dedicate their lives to the pursuit of flavour. Fascinated by their fervour and seemingly superhuman sensory powers, she set out to uncover what drove their obsession, and whether she, too, could become a ‘cork dork.’

With boundless curiosity, humour and a healthy dose of scepticism, Bosker takes the reader inside underground tasting groups, exclusive New York City restaurants, mass-market wine factories and even a neuroscientist’s fMRI machine as she attempts to answer the most nagging question of all: what’s the big deal about wine? Funny, counterintuitive and compulsively readable, Cork Dork does for drinking what Kitchen Confidential did for dining out, ensuring you’ll never reach blindly for the second cheapest bottle on the menu again.

Vino Business

For centuries a bastion of tradition and the jewel in the crown of French viticulture, Bordeaux has in recent years become dogged by controversy, particularly regarding the 2012 classification of the wines of St.-Émilion, the most prestigious appellation of Bordeaux’s right bank. St.-Émilion is an area increasingly dominated by big international investors, especially from China, who are keen to speculate on the area’s wines and land, some of whose value has increased tenfold in the last decade alone.

In the controversial 2012 classification, certain châteaux were promoted to a more prestigious class because of insider deals that altered the scoring system for the classification of wines into premier crus and grand crus. This system now takes into account the facilities of each château’s tasting room, the size of its warehouse, and even the extent of its parking lot. The quality of the wine counts for just 30% of the total score for the wines of the top ranking, those deemed premier grand cru classé A.

In Vino Business, Saporta shows how back-room deals with wine distributors, multinational investors like the luxury company LVMH, and even wine critics, have fundamentally changed this ancient business. Saporta also investigates issues of wine labelling and the use of pesticides, and draws comparisons to Champagne, Burgundy and the rest of the wine world. Based on two years of research and reporting, Vino Business draws back the curtain on the secret world of Bordeaux, a land ever more in thrall to the grapes of wealth.