Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Drops of God & La Sommeliere ~ Learning About Wine with Comic Books ~

Maybe it's my age or maybe it’s because people know I like food but I feel like I’m often asked whether or not I like wine. I wish my answer was an easy yes or no. Unfortunately, my truthful reply, which I always end up giving even though it’s probably too wordy and more information than anyone cares for, is that I think wine is vastly interesting yet I can’t say I love the flavor of it and crave it the way I do with foods like warm baked bread or juicy ripe fruit or fresh out of the ocean sashimi. I think it might be the alcohol since I’m one of those people who quickly turn red after just a few sips of light beer. But I love tasting different wines and seeing how different flavors are created from a few little grapes. So yes, I like wine, but if given the choice between having $100 worth of amazingly good sushi and $100 worth of a really good wine, I would choose sushi every single time. Or is that not a fair comparison to you, oh wine loving reader?

Just like so many things I've ever expressed a semblance of interest in, I’ve never bothered to learn much about wine. Sure I drink it from time to time and would read about it here and there, but nothing ever stuck and stored itself in my squishy little brain.

Then I discovered a couple of wine based manga (まんが・漫画), or Japanese comic books. I love my manga. I read them all the time. I have series about art history and baseball and cooking, and now I’m going to read about wine, and by writing about it I’m going to really learn about wine for once in my life. There. I declared it.

The first series I’m following is called Kami no Shizuku (神の雫), roughly translated as "Drops of God". It's a current series that as of today is on book 25. Unfortunately, an English translation doesn't exist yet but it has been translated into Korean and Chinese. A couple of years ago, those countries experienced a wine boom just like in Japan, largely attributed to this comic series. See, comic books are educational and good for you. The series was turned into a TV drama in Japan, and I believe a Korean version starring Bae Yong Joon also exists, but I might be wrong on the latter part.


The plotline for Drops of God is a little more intense than the second series I will read. "La Sommeliere" (ソムリエール), as the name suggests, is about a female sommelier Kana Itsuki. Growing up in an orphanage, she was always supported by a mysterious benefactor named John Smith (original right?). Mr. Smith paid for the orphanage and also paid for Kana to learn about wine making. Mr. Smith tells Kana she must return to Japan and work as a sommelier at a restaurant he specifies, otherwise he will close the orphanage she grew up in. Kana agrees, and as she tries to figure out who Mr. Smith is and what he wants, the reader is introduced to various wines.

This second series has been translated into Korean too!

A lot of the bottles in these two series are priiicey, so I definitely won't be drinking everything I learn about. But my birthday is coming up so maybe then I will splurge on something special??

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