Comic influence: Yuko and Shin Kibayashi

It’s the perennial conundrum: how does one convey the complex appeal of wine to a younger generation? Yuko and Shin Kibayashi, authors of The Drops of God, may have the answer, writes Patrick Schmitt MW.

Yuko and Shin Kibayashi

Yuko and Shin Kibayashi

AT A time when alcohol consumption is stagnating and the appeal of micro-brews and craft spirits is rising, if one were asked to select the greatest challenge for wine, it would concern consumer recruitment – after all, without new drinkers, the industry has no future.

Given that wine has changed little over the centuries, attracting new buyers tends to depend on methods of communication, rather than new product innovations. In essence, how should one convey the complex appeal of wine, particularly to a younger generation – especially in places where there’s no history of wine appreciation? Well, one solution has been found; and it should be stressed it hasn’t come from the West.

It comes in the form of manga, a Japanese style of cartoon developed in the 19th century, and it’s being used to tell a complex tale conceived this century, which, crucially, centres on an obsessive love of great wine.

Called The Drops of God, the story follows Shizuku Kanzaki, the son of a recently deceased wine critic, who competes against his father’s adopted son to take ownership of an incredible collection of wines.

These labels, mostly the great wines of Europe, have been amassed by the critic over the past 30 years, and Shizuku – who has no interest in wine (he works for a brewer) – must race to correctly identify 12 wines, known as the 12 Apostles, and one final wine, The Drops of God wine, ahead of his adopted brother, who is armed with far superior knowledge – he is a sommelier.

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