Book Review: "Sippin' On Top of the World"

I received a very intriguing book sample a few months back, “Sipping On Top of the World: Toasting Good Times and Better Days,” courtesy of the author, David White and his organization, the Institute of Wine & Spirituality.  I say intriguing because while I’ve also considered the premise of the book, to actually see an entire life philosophy designed around its topic is quite novel, no pun intended!  David proposes that wine can help to direct oneself to the necessary reflection, introspection and celebration of life through its vinous pleasure.  Coming from a lifelong interest in philosophic and religious texts, I was very interested to read through this book.

David’s work of non-fiction is structured into six subject sections of 88 different “Sips” or short essays discussing different and concise subjects that can be used to launch a larger discussion amongst oneself or with a small group of like-minded friends.  The essays are the remainder of a total of 160 some-odd conversations and emails that David has had with various friends and associates over the years.   As such, many are scribed by David himself, or by various guest authors and philosophers that have been heart-felt friends of David over the years.  At the end of each Sip is a set of 3 questions to help guide discussion around each topic and 1 additional blank question for each reader to submit their own Reflection Question for a topic.

One of things that I most appreciated about the collection was their inherent connection to and happy reliance upon the pleasure, calmness, altruism and self-awareness that can come with a glass of fine wine and the comforting embrace of long-time friends.  I have *exactly* the same belief and have wondered time and again, at the ability of wine to induce such expansion.  Reading through the different Sips in “Sippin’“, I found some of the same feelings and thoughts that I’d enjoyed while having good wine with great friends and family over the years.  The shortness of the essays sometimes seemed overly austere.  While I can understand that these are meant as lunching points for further introspection, many times I was just getting into a Sip to find that I was on the last paragraph.  Many of my favorite tomes over the years, while leaving self-analysis to the reader, have also provided more of a starting point for the ruminations.

That said, I did find some of the Sips as good companion ideas to issues that I’m currently dissecting in my own life.  David wrote a very incisive essay entitled “How are Wines & People Parallel in Mellowing With Age?” which gave me one of those “of course!” moments while reading through its lines.  IWS Advisory Board member Sondra Barrett wrote another favorite entitled “What Happens in Accessing Inner Beauty”.  Here she analyzes the mistakes that come with taking something or someone at face value. First impressions are very hard to make and just as hard to receive with a mind that is tempered by the notion that first impression is just that; it is one single experience.

I found “Sippin’ on Top of the World” to be a good introduction for someone that might be just starting to experience the physical, mental and emotional joys of wine.  While I didn’t find that this book fit my particular tastes for philosophic or meditative texts, I think that it can be quite appealing to a number of my friends and readers.  You can find David White’s book at the IWS website, or it is also available at a number of wineries and on Amazon.  Cheers!