Making Sense of Elliot Essman’s “Use Wine To Make Sense Of The World”

Vinted on February 11, 2010 binned in book reviews, wine books

I think I’m beginning to understand what draws me to certain things, whether they be people, works of art, musical pieces, bands, sports teams, or wines.  Yeah, it took me over 30 years, but I have made some progress.

And it’s not easy to describe, because there is no single word in the English language that really encapsulates it – at least, not one that I’ve found.

It’s a sense of being genuine.

I don’t mean transparent, or honest, or without fault.  I mean, something clearly being… itself.  What appeals to me most is when someone or something has a spark of originality that is obvious to its very core, because he/she/it simply doesn’t know how to be any other way.

Which is why I enjoyed Elliot Essman’s Use Wine To Make Sense Of The World (the author sent me a review copy).

In an odd way, Essman’s writing made me think about that, because at first I could not figure out why I liked his book, which at times felt a bit tedious (there are sections devoted to following his bouts with Internet dating, as told via the wine selections of each date that, while not nearly as cringe-inducing as it sounds, made me scratch my head and wonder what the hell I was reading).

But it all came together for me in the next-to-last chapter (“Use Wine To Make Sense Of Your Brain”).  Essman was playing me the whole time…

Essman is a philosopher by education, and what at first seems like a random list of topics (Use wine to make sense of desire and lust, Use wine to make sense of the natural world…) is actually a progressive march through Essman’s personal journey to make sense of his own life.  It’s like reality TV for the well-read, erudite set.  Higher quality of content, but just as compelling.

And in that way, Use Wine To Make Sense Of The World is captivating, because it’s like reading… a blog.

Whether he realizes it or not, Essman has taken a cue from some of the best blog writers out there, like Brazen Careerist: bare all. Bare all without fear, and you will know quickly who your friends and enemies are.  Bear all with abandon, and those that cross the line to be on your side will do so with gusto and fervor.

In other words, it’s genuine.

I’m still not sure that I made total sense of Use Wine To Make Sense Of The World – in fact, I still don’t understand Essman’s take on “hearing” wine, and I don’t at all get why he feels compelled to justify (at length) the subject aspect of his tasting notes.  But I didn’t care by the end of it, because I felt that I knew this guy.  In fact, after finishing the book I immediately wanted to contact him to see if he would like to share a drink with me and Jeff Lefevere – I can only imagine how those conversations would spin after opening up a bottle or two (I didn’t contact him, in case you’re wondering; not yet, anyway).

Actually, that’s a great litmus test for whether or not you will dig this book: If you’re a fan of Good Grape, you definitely will want to read Use Wine To Make Sense Of The World – Essman seems cut from the same philosophical writing mold as Jeff.  If not, then you’re better off reading something else.

Now… if we can just get Essman to start a wine blog…

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  • 1WineDude

    Yeah, man – but think of **the value**…!!

    Maybe we should actually pull off this crazy idea… need to find a suitable middle-ground meeting place for us…

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