Wine is something I haven’t really ever gotten into. I love my craft beers, and even tend toward some of the sweeter brews…but I also go for malty beers (I’m not sure they make a malty wine). I’ve also never had a barley wine I’ve really liked; they’re just too strong. Which is my underlying problem with wine. It’s way stronger than beer and I can’t get over the alcohol to not alcohol ratio.
Drops of God may have changed my mind. When I read it the first time, I had yet to really get into beer. I had tasted some Fat Tire and maybe a few other wheat beers and hefeweizens, but I had nary an idea of Exile, 515, Confluence, Alluvial, or Firetrucker (the local breweries round my parts). It could be that some of them didn’t exist yet when I first read Drops of God, but I also had no interest in not-ciders.
Kanzaki Shizuku is the son of a wine critic, Yutaka, who passes away at the beginning of the story. He has found himself long estranged from his father in defiance of the training he went through as a child—ranging from licking leather to tasting several different grape juices to detect the subtle differences between them. Shizuku finds himself extremely knowledgeable on wine without ever having a drop. When his father dies, he leaves his fortune of wines to one of his sons(!!) contingent on recognizing the 12 Apostles and the titular Drops of God. Through this challenge, Shizuku discovers what his father always wanted him to know about wine. That is the tragedy of Drops of God, but Shizuku has indeed inherited his father’s legacy. He just has to prove it now.
It’s through Shizuku—a novice in book smarts, but a 20-something year veteran in tongue smarts—that we learn about wine. Drops of God paints a picture you can’t ignore about wine. Just like Food Wars described (and drew!) food in the most gorgeous of manners, Drops of God displays wine in the way only a wine drinker can truly appreciate. But it whets the pallet of a novice. It has to, at the very least, spurn a passing interest in wine.
Drops of God is meticulous in its presentation of wine. Mangaka Tadashi Agi—which is actually a pseudonym of a brother and sister writing team of Yuko and Shin Kibayashi—loves wine. They have their own wine blog, and they’ve obviously done their research for this manga. If not by drinking the wine (some can cost an upwards of thousands of dollars), then by reading critical reviews of the wine by experts. Their enthusiasm for wine bleeds through the pages like wine through a white shirt.
Drops of God has me thinking about wine. Given that I’m not exactly in wine country, I probably won’t be able to find one of the dozens and dozens of wines they mention in the comic. Most of them are obscure, expensive, or foreign (mostly French and Italian, though some Australian, Chilean, and other countries I can’t currently remember). But, at the request of Agi, Vertical released volumes 22 and 23 of the Japanese manga, branded Drops of God New World (without a volume number). It brings Shizuku to America, where those on the west coast have a much better chance of finding one of these wines, if not the specific year, then certainly the vintner.
There’s unfortunately fewer and fewer copies of the manga running around the market; however, there are in print digital versions of the manga, which are available on kindle and comixology. Anyway you read it, if you choose to read it, happy drinking.