Zen Wine: David White’s Sippin’ On Top Of The World

Vinted on October 21, 2009 binned in book reviews, wine books, zen wine

I seem to be in ‘book mode’ the last week or two.  I’m a bit of a bookworm, so it’s fun for me to mess  around at the intersection of wine and the printed word.  I still don’t own an eReader device, by the way – I prefer Book 1.0 – you know, the kind with actual pages that you can stick a bookmark between.

Anyway, here’s another piece of printed word that intersects with the wacky world  of wine.

David White’s Sippin’ on Top of the World: Toasting Good Times and Better Days, of which I recently received a sample copy, is a bit of a strange book. 

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s being misrepresented. 

Sippin’ on Top of the World isn’t so much a list of wine toasts (as the subtitle would lead you to believe) as it is a series of spiritual wine meditations.  Which makes sense when you consider that its author, David White, is the co-founder of the “WineSpirit Institute for the Study of Wine and Spirituality.”


At this point, your mind may be screaming “CULT! CULT!” and planning to run away as quickly as you can lest you be tainted by the odiferous funk of the religious cook.  It would be an understandable reaction, though one that I’d argue was totally incorrect.

In fact, depending on your point of view, dismiss Sippin’ on Top of the World too readily and you’d be missing out on some potentially enthralling conversation topics, not to mention possible sources of inspiration…

Sippin’ on Top of the World is arranged not so much in chapters as it is around questions.  Each question, or “sip",” is intended to be discussed, or contemplated over a glass of vino, and the sips deal with topics such as “A Lifetime of Grace Bestowed in a Moment,” “What Wines Contribute to Great Memories?,” and “What is Wonderful About Clinking Glasses.”

These are not the musings of an unbalanced, new age cook.  Most of the ‘sips’ are thought-provoking alternatives for looking at everyday events connected to wine, and in that way they deftly combine the fun and liveliness of sharing wine and conversation with our collective societal urge to connect our daily lives to the divine, (thankfully) without bringing in the wet blanket of any specific religious beliefs.

The topics touched on in White’s collection are diverse and cover a broad range of everyday life (for most Western societies, anyway), including health, how to best approach wine, gratitude, mental wellbeing, holidays, grace, sustainability, values, and aging.  While it certainly approaches the precipice of new age spirituality,  Sippin’ on Top of the World does so cautiously and never forgets that its audience might include wine lovers among the devoutly religious, moderately spiritual, or skeptically agnostic (I consider myself somewhere between the latter two groups, by the way).  The last group will probably find fewer gems in the book, but only the most spiritually skeptical would write it off entirely, and I’m impressed that White and company were able to navigate such potentially treacherous territory without watering-down the essence of the messages.

Religious views aside, there is something positive about the approach White takes in this book that many budding wine enthusiasts would do well to remember:

Ironically, wine… can be intimidating to some people.  But wine should not be feared – it can be an important ally on the path to spirituality, and an avenue to the more important things in life.

I can certainly ‘sip’ to that.


(images: amazon.com)





  • Steve Heimoff

    When I was a kid and the extended family – maybe 30 strong – got together for the holidays, we'd all gather around the table and the ladies (of course) would bring out the food. Everybody was really hungry. Before anyone ate, though, my uncle would say, "Let us say grace." And everybody would yell "GRACE!" and dig in. We weren't big on rituals and ceremony, but I think my family was spiritual, in their own way.

  • 1WineDude

    That's a classic! :)

  • Dylan

    You brought up a good point–whenever the word "spirituality" is mentioned everyone runs for the hills. I'm not one for dream catchers and wish crystals myself, but that's only one view of spirituality. It's different for everyone really. My definition of spirituality has always been the actions I consider refreshing for my spirit–this is usually in the form of a long walk through the woods. For David White, his seems to be wine.

  • 1WineDude

    Great points!

  • David White

    Actually, I look at wine as one example of spiritual access points. It seems to be the only agricultural product which every culture, in different ways, has seen through the ages as a catalyst to making moments special, as in toasting in all its varieties. One goal of the book is to encourage the reader to identify their spiritual access points, i.e. Sip 58, what makes them passionate about life, as in your long walk in the woods, and honor those special moments more than we often do because of the "crush' of busy and anxiety producing schedules. 1 WineDude captured beautifully what I attempted to do with Sippin', to make spirituality more user friendly, as well as wine.

  • 1WineDude


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