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Wine Girl

Fortnum & Mason Food and Drink Awards, 2021

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Audiobook Downloadable / ISBN-13: 9781405546775

Price: £19.99

ON SALE: 19th March 2020

Genre: Biography & True Stories / Memoirs

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.


Sommelier Victoria James's deeply personal book is by turns harrowing and inspiring . . . 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
Dana Cowin, former editor-in-chief of Food and Wine
One can't help but root for James's hard-won success
James puts her own career and reputation at risk for writing such a frank book. But it's also crystal clear that she cares passionately about the industry. This is not a pity party - it's written more for other women caught in the place she was. This is not revenge arson, wanting to see the whole show go up in flames - it is a clarion call for change
America's youngest sommelier reveals the sleazy underside of the world of fine dining in this insightful memoir
Sunday Times (Best Paperback of 2021)
An uplifting story of grit and resilience that will leave you with an appetite for the pleasures that James so vividly describes
Mail on Sunday
In this gritty, eloquent memoir, James, who became America's youngest sommelier at twenty-one, talks about overcoming sexual assault and sexism as she built a career in the restaurant business . . . 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
Publishers Weekly
Hugely entertaining
Jay Rayner, Observer
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"
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 burgundy
David Williams, Observer
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 wine
Financial Times
Need something quick and escapist? Sommelier Victoria James's memoir Wine Girl of her time in the toxic restaurant industry is addictive
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
Bianca Bosker, New York Times bestselling author of Cork Dork
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 resilience
Laura Pullman, Sunday Times
For anyone interested in food, or the dark underbelly and exhilarating fizz of restaurant life, Wine Girl is a page-turning read
the i
Just the light-yet-escapist read you're in the mood for, this memoir by sommelier Victoria James unpicks the institutional misogyny of the fine dining restaurant scene that's perfect for fans of Sweet Bitter and also reminds you of the nourishing joy of good food, good people and good wine
An inspiring, captivating story of resilience
Kirkus Reviews
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
Adam Platt, New York Magazine restaurant critic