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Wine girl : the obstacles, humiliations, and triumphs of America's youngest sommelier

by James, Victoria (Sommelier),

Format: Print Book 2020
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An affecting memoir from the country's youngest sommelier, tracing her path through the glamorous but famously toxic restaurant world

At just twenty-one, the age when most people are starting to drink (well, legally at least), Victoria James became the country'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 to 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 leader 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.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "James was just 21 when she became the youngest sommelier in the U.S. But her journey to achieving the wine industry's highest accolade was filled with trials and tribulations that ultimately influenced her to become the woman she is today. For fans of Tara Westover's Educated (2017), James' first memoir is a #metoo story for the fine-dining industry, full of bosses who abused their roles and patrons with a clear lack of boundaries. She describes taking her first diner job at 13 to escape her strict father and how this evolved into bartending positions and eventually work in the fine-dining scene. James also takes us through her abusive and traumatic childhood and reflects on how those experiences strengthened her resolve to share her love of wine and hospitality with people. Inspiring, and a true testament to the author's strength, Wine Girl is like a good meal paired with the finest wine: meant to be savored in all its many subtle layers.--Danielle Bauter Copyright 2020 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "In this gritty, eloquent memoir, James, who became the country's youngest sommelier at 21, talks about overcoming sexual assault and sexism as she built a career in the restaurant business. The book, which spans James's life from age seven to 28, opens with an overview of her unstable childhood, which included an absent mother and alcoholic father. James worked in greasy diners as a teenager and painfully describes being raped by a customer after a shift. She briefly turned to drugs after the attack, then got clean and moved to New York, where she landed a bartending job at an Italian restaurant. Her first sommelier job was at Michelin-starred Aureole, where she learned how to make wine recommendations and how to scan a customer's appearance to determine how much money they might spend. Often dismissed by customers who disliked taking advice from a woman, she relentlessly studied wine and won awards, among them the prestigious Sud de France Sommelier Challenge. James grippingly discusses working at several high-end restaurants and wading through ugly swamps of unwanted advances and crude comments before finding a happy home at Michelin-starred Cote, where she is the beverage director. This is a captivating story of resilience from a sommelier who hustled hard to conquer her profession. (Mar.)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects James, Victoria -- (Sommelier)
Sommeliers -- United States -- Biography.
Publisher New York, NY :2020
Edition First edition.
Language English
Description xii, 316 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
ISBN 9780062961679
Other Classic View