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This Is What Happens at a ‘Wine Orgy,’ According to ‘Cork Dork’ Bianca Bosker

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It’s probably not what you’re picturing

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In Cork Dork, author Bianca Bosker chronicles her journey from wine novice and tech journalist to full-fledged believer in the power of a glass. At first skeptical of wine obsessives, she immersed herself in the world of sommeliers and collectors to eventually become a wine expert in her own right. Along the way, Bosker attended a “wine orgy for the mega rich.” Officially called the La Paulée Burgundy Festival, the long-running wine world tradition is not as NSFW as it sounds. Bosker explained how “the most extravagant gathering of wine collectors on the planet” works to Eater Upsell hosts Helen Rosner and Greg Morabito on a recent episode.

“This is literally just obscenely rich people treating incredibly expensive bottles of wine in a fascinatingly cavalier way,” Bosker says. La Paulée originated in Burgundy, France, but now holds annual events in New York and San Francisco. It’s five days of wine-fueled dinners, tastings, and seminars, culminating in a $1,500 gala in which guests are invited to bring and share “treasures from their cellars.”

So to be clear, a wine orgy and a sex orgy are not the same thing, but they do have their similarities, according to Bosker. “Everyone is there to bring pleasure to other people by doing something to their body. It is so carnal in its way,” she says. And interactions can veer into uncomfortably intimate territory. Bosker points to one encounter at La Paulée in which a collector she had never met offered her a taste of his wine along with the inquiry, “Have you ever had an orgasm standing up?”

Bosker goes on to describe “men feeding other men shaved black truffle, and people placing cheese in each other’s mouths [and] bringing people over to sniff their wines” at the gala event. But, what truly earns La Paulée the “orgy” designation is its over the top decadence. “It’s a wonderful, horrifying amount of excess,” Bosker says, and the amount of wine that ends up in spit buckets, she adds, “is just criminal.”

Hear the complete interview with Bianca Bosker below, as she discusses why tasting notes matter, how wineries engineer mass-market wines, and confirms that, yes, restaurant sommeliers do indeed judge their guests. Subscribe to the Eater Upsell on iTunes, or listen on Soundcloud. You can also get the entire archive of episodes   right here on Eater.

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• The Eater Upsell: Bianca Bosker [Spotify | Art19]

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