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What to expect
An affecting memoir from America’s youngest sommelier, tracing her path through the glamorous but famously toxic restaurant world
At just twenty-one, Victoria James became America’s youngest sommelier at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Even as Victoria was selling bottles worth hundreds and thousands of dollars during the day, passing sommelier certification exams with flying colors and receiving distinction from all kinds of press, there were still groping patrons, bosses who abused their role and status and a trip the hospital emergency room.
It would take hitting bottom at a new restaurant and restorative trips to the vineyards where she could feel closest to the wine she loved for Victoria to re-emerge, clear-eyed and passionate, and a proud ‘wine girl’ of her own Michelin-starred restaurant.
Exhilarating and inspiring, Wine Girl is the memoir of a young woman breaking free from an abusive and traumatic childhood on her own terms; an ethnography of the glittering, high-octane, but notoriously corrosive restaurant industry; and above all, a love letter to the restorative and life-changing effects of good wine and good hospitality.
An uplifting story of grit and resilience that will leave you with an appetite for the pleasures that James so vividly describesMail on Sunday
James does for wine what Anthony Bourdain did for the high-pressure, low-margin world of professional restaurants, exposing secrets kept from customers . . . James offers a fresh lexicon for a young generation of “cork dorks” hungry to know and talk about wine . . . But James’s story is edged with the darkness of her experience in hospitality . . . [her] story shows how precarious life on the knife-edge of survival in the restaurant industry really is. Almost unbelievably, she retained an abiding love for wineFinancial Times
Don’t read this book without wine to hand. I glugged at the gossipy bits, sipped at the sad parts . . . In Wine Girl James spills all on Manhattan’s fine-dining world . . . you’ll raise a glass to her extraordinary resilienceSunday Times
A brilliantly Bourdain-ish tale of a young woman making her way through the sexist American fine-dining world. A glass of rich white burgundy, such as Christophe Cordier’s, will enhance the experience of the chapter in which James deals hilariously with a chauvinistic mansplainer and a bottle of super-expensive white burgundyObserver
Wine Girl speaks to a new generation. This memoir is not an easy read. It is, yes, about discovering wine and becoming a sommelier, but also about a difficult upbringing . . . and gender politics, and sexual abuse and harassment in and around the “toxic world of fine dining”Telegraph
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