02 March 2013

Weekend Cooking: Review: The Drops of God #2 by Tadashi Agi

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It's difficult for me to believe that so much time has gone by since I read the first book in Tadashi Agi's fabulous manga series about wine. I talked about The Drops of God volume 1 way back in November 2011.

The series stars Shizuku Kanzaki, the son of one of the most respected wine critics in Japan. Much to his father's dismay, Shizuku never displayed much interest in wine, and so the elder Kanzaki took on an apprentice, Tomine. When the wine critic died, he willed his famous wine collection to either Tomine or Shizuku, whoever discovers thirteen special wines first.

In The Drops of God 2, Shizuku and Tomine are pitted against each other in a contest between French and Italian wines. Shizuku, with the help of his friend Miyabi, sets out to learn about French wines, so he can pick three that he thinks will beat Tomine's Italian wines. Fortunately, Miyabi is learning to become a sommelière, so she is able to explain to Shizuku--and to us--the differences between the wines and wine-growing regions of France.

Although there is a bit of drama surrounding the competitive wine tasting, the real joy of reading The Drops of God is learning about wine. Agi's books have to be the easiest wine course ever. We learn about the different levels of Burgundy wines, the meaning of terroir, and the importance of letting some wines air and/or decanting them. We learn about the grapes used in the wines and even the locations of some of the vineyards.

But this is no dry discourse on snooty French wine. Instead we learn by tasting. Or rather by reading about what it's like to taste the wines and listening in as Shizuku and Miyabi ask the experts for advice. What do we discover?
  • That expensive is not always better than cheap wine.
  • That wines from same grapes that were grown in the same region can vary widely in flavor.
  • That matching wine with food is similar to matching couples for a good marriage.
  • That conventional wisdom is not always correct.
As the story progresses, Shizuku gains confidence about his talents for assessing wine, and he and Miyabi make new friends and allies. Finally, he feels ready to begin the real competition with Tomine--the fight to inherit his father's wine collection.

The book ends soon after the family lawyer reveals the clue for the first of the thirteen wines. Tomine is immediately sure he can narrow down the wine to a region and grape. Shizuku, however, turns to his friends. Together they analyze the clues, and on the last page, Shizuku stumbles across the key to the solution, and book ends on a culinary cliff-hanger.

The black and white drawings by Shu Okimoto clearly render the emotions of the characters, which adds to the pacing of the story and competition. I particularly liked the detailed pictures of the wine labels and the yummy food served in the restaurants Shizuku visits.

I've already ordered volume three in the series. I don't want to wait 18 months until I find out what happens next. I want to know where the story will take Shizuku and what I'll learn about wine and food in the next installment. It's not surprising that the series is a winner of a Gourmand Cookbook Award.

Buy The Drops of God, Volume 2 at an Indie or a bookstore near you. This link leads to an affiliate program.
Published in the United States by Vertical, Inc., 2011
ISBN-13: 9781935654292
Rating: B+
Source: Bought (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


caite 3/2/13, 6:33 AM  

I admit I have never jumped on the Manga bandwagon..but this sounds like one I might like!

rhapsodyinbooks 3/2/13, 7:40 AM  

Jim is one of those guys that if you tell him the wine is more expensive, he will think it tastes better! LOL I now fudge up the cost of wine I buy! :--) (hope he doesn't read this comment...)

Beth S. 3/2/13, 7:49 AM  

I wasn't sold until I got to the actual review part and you mentioned it's like reading a course on wine without the snooty pretentiousness. Hmmm... thinking I might want to read this now.

Sandy Nawrot 3/2/13, 8:08 AM  

OK maybe I'm dense but is this a true story? I mean, wine education, and manga? How have I missed this????? And yes, I have participated in some blind tastings and it is shocking (and humbling) at how the 2 buck chuck can taste like a finely aged Burgundy.

Janel Gradowski 3/2/13, 8:13 AM  

I wandered through the manga section of a bookstore last weekend. It never occurred to me to look for one about wine! I'll definitely keep my eye out for this series in the future.

jama 3/2/13, 8:47 AM  

Thanks for the heads up about this series. Never would have thought I could learn about wine by reading Manga. :)

Pierce 3/2/13, 9:00 AM  

My son read lots of Manga books and I have to say, I never thought about a wine tasting theme in Manga. This is very interesting!

Lisa (Southern Girl Reads) 3/2/13, 9:21 AM  

A few years ago, I began studying up on wine and learning all I could and it is a very interesting thing. But I'm confused as well, is this a true story? Regardless, it sounds very intriguing.

Beth F 3/2/13, 9:42 AM  

No, no. It's not a true story, but the wine information is fairly accurate and many credit these books with boosting the wine trade in Japan!

JoAnn 3/2/13, 9:53 AM  

This could get me to give manga a try!

SuziQoregon 3/2/13, 11:04 AM  

It's been a while since I read volume 1 too - need to get my hands on volume 2. Just reading your review made me eager to find it soon. Such a great story and a fun introduction to Manga too.

Trish 3/2/13, 11:45 AM  

I absolutely love the idea of this!! I don't know very much about wine (except that I enjoy it and would looooooooove to have a glass right now) but for some reason wine seems so incredibly complex. Learning about wine in a manga seems like so much fun!

(Diane) bookchickdi 3/2/13, 12:09 PM  

A manga about wine? It sure sounds interesting.

Margot 3/2/13, 1:00 PM  

Learning about wine via a manga sounds a lot more friendly than some of those other wine tomes that leave me confused.

Carole 3/2/13, 1:32 PM  

I really am not sure what manga is exactly.... thanks for hosting. If you like Mexican food there are over 130 links to dishes in the current Food on Friday - I went into major hunger when reading them... Cheers

Peaceful Reader 3/2/13, 2:18 PM  

What an absolutely delightful idea for a mystery! I'm not a comic fan but this one piques my interest.

bermudaonion 3/2/13, 3:56 PM  

My mom's the wine drinker in our family and one of her favorites is a cheap bottle from Trader Joe's.

Julie P. 3/2/13, 5:21 PM  

A wine themed manga? I've seriously seen everything now!

Sue Jackson 3/3/13, 10:44 AM  

A Manga book about wine? That is quite a ways outside the bounds of what I usually read!

Hope you had a good food week!


Book By Book

Angela 3/3/13, 3:08 PM  

This sounds like a fun series to read. I have to admit that I'm clueless when it comes to wine.

Vasilly 3/3/13, 4:48 PM  

This sounds like a great book! I love your enthusiasm for it!

Fresh Mommy 3/3/13, 9:03 PM  

So interesting!! I never really know the next good book to pick up and I wasn't even sure about this... but some good ole' lessons in wine would probably do me some good! :)

gnoegnoe 3/9/13, 8:54 AM  

Aw, this is a great tip Beth! Glad you blogged about it again because I've somehow missed your review of volume #1 and I think this may be a perfect present for Mr Gnoe! :)

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