Friday, October 21, 2011

Drops of God

So Drops of God is coming to America.

The eight year old comic book that has transformed wine culture in Japan (yes, I wrote "comic book" and "wine culture" in the same sentence) is now available in English. Like all good comic books, it pits good versus evil.

 From  Gilt Taste :

"The hero, Shizuku, is a wine newbie who works as a beer rep for a Japanese drinks importer. When Shizuku’s famous wine-critic father dies and leaves behind a priceless collection, Shizuku must compete for his inheritance in a 12-part puzzle, which he plays against his adopted brother, a despicable young wine critic."

Yup, it's a Japanese soap opera. About wine. Genius!

Since its inception, wine sales in Japan are up 130%. Will it be enough to transform America's box wine habit ? That remains to be seen. Studies indicate that even Americans who actually open a bottle when they want to drink wine, 2 out of 3 times reach for a bottle of California grape goodness. This isn't entirely vile, I suppose, but Shizuku and friends, who are mostly all about the French bordeaux, wouldn't approve.

I love wine. Opening a bottle is usually the first thing I do when I get home from work, and I relish in the knowledge that no one in the world is drinking my wine, because it is unique from the second it's opened. I spent a lot of years drinking California chardonnay, and yes, I wish I had them all back. Discovering juicy earthy reds was a revelation, learning to taste the soil in which the grapes in my glass were grown, closing my eyes and seeing the sun on the vines, magical. You can keep your Napa Cabs,  I'm a peasant, I love nothing better than drinking a wine that tastes like I'm driving behind a gravel truck. Blackberries in ash, licorice buried in the garden, eggplant and raspberries, I love wines that tell me a thousand different dirty stories. I don't believe in god, but if I did, I'd have no trouble believing that his tears are in ever glass.

So tonight I leave you with a French  peasant dish beloved by this peasant wine drinker, fabulous with a down and dirty Bordeaux:

Beggar's Bucatini

Coarsely chop a mix of nuts, I like pistachios and macadamias. Hazelnuts and almonds are good substitutes. Enough to make 2/3 cup.

Dice up some dried figs, approximately 3/4 cup. I like a mix of black mission and conadria.

Add about 1/3 cup of raisins. I prefer golden.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for pasta. Add a package (14-16 oz) of linguine or bucatini.

In a separate large pot, big enough to hold the cooked pasta, melt two sticks of unsalted butter. When it's just starting to brown, add the nuts, figs, and raisins. Bring to a boil and cook until its fragrant, brown, and bubbly, about 7-8 minutes. The pasta should just be perfectly al dente at this point. Drain and add it to the butter mixture, stirring to mix it well. Pour it into a large bowl and add 1/3 cup or more of freshly grated parmesan and the finely chopped zest of an orange, plus a couple tablespoons of chopped parsley and salt and plenty pepper to taste. Serve immediately with your chosen drops of god.

Mangia!  or Manga, as the Japanese case (and comic book) may be...


  1. Not all California wines are bad. Ste. Michelle bought Stag's Leap in 2008, which is the winery that produced the 1973 Cab that won the Judgement of Paris in 1976. I had won a bottle of the '07 Estate Cab in a door drawing at the company Christmas party - retails for a pretty penny. Saved that for the day the divorce was final. I know that some of the high-end reds can be really challenging, but this wine was absolutely beautiful, spicy but not overly intense. So worth the wait to open.

  2. I agree, but my problem is price point. For $22 I can buy a worldclass Spanish
    , South African, NZ, or Italian wine, but CA wines in the price point are swill.