Wine Girl : The Trials and Triumphs of America's Youngest Sommelier
Author(s): Victoria James
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.
"[James's] story...exudes warmth as she breezily weaves in her knowledge and passion for wine and shares the generous love she has for her siblings, friends, and husband. An inspiring, captivating story of resilience. "
"Gritty, eloquent...a captivating story of resilience from a sommelier who hustled hard to conquer her profession."
"Wine Girl is funny, bracing, disturbing, and above all necessary. Victoria reveals the best and darkest in who we are and how we dine. I couldn’t put it down."
"Sommelier Victoria James's deeply personal book is by turns harrowing and inspiring, incomprehensible and educational. From Wine Girl, I learned as much about the resilience of the human spirit as I had about the wonders of wine. And turned the last page with a profound feeling of gratitude to Victoria for sharing her story and becoming a model for women everywhere."
"While informative about what it takes to become a sommelier, the focus of this moving memoir is more on James’s personal journey. A satisfying read."
"Victoria James's journey from roadside-diner waitress, theme-park fairy princess, and drug-addled victim of abuse to the pinnacle of New York's haughty wine world reads like something out of a great fable by Charles Dickens. This affecting, informative memoir is crucial reading for wine lovers, food lovers, and anyone thinking about making their way in the rough-and-tumble world of big-time restaurants."