It’s a Monday night in October in Beverly Hills. Wine lovers are gathering for a party at The Bazaar, the famed molecular gastronomy restaurant by Michelin-starred chef José Andrés.
The entire restaurant has been booked to celebrate the launch of The Drops of God Wine Salon, an interactive online wine club created by Napa Valley vintner Peter Chiang and the sibling creators of the manga “Drops of God”, Shin and Yuko Kibayashi. Full disclosure, NextShark also had a role in co-hosting this event.
Bottles of wine and delicious food blanket the restaurant. Many of the bottles on display are actual wines featured in the manga.
Everyone has a glass in their hand and a smile on their face, but perhaps the happiest people in the room are Shin and Yuko. Like glamorous movie stars, they wear sunglasses inside from all the lights and camera flashes constantly bombarding them, but steadily sipping the whole night, they can’t help but crack smiles left and right.
Nearly 15 years ago, Shin and Yuko put their incredible imaginations together to create “Drops of God”, basically THE manga about wine. It follows the story of a boy who must learn everything about how to drink and judge wine in order to inherit his wine-critic father’s legacy. Every wine in the manga is a real wine, all picked by Shin and Yuko, who published the manga under the pseudonym Tadashi Agi. The manga ran for 44 volumes over ten years.
Benny Luo, NextShark’s founder who is admittedly clueless about wine, had a chance to sit with Shin, Yuko, and their translator to learn about them and where their love for wine came from.
Benny began by asking Shin and Yuko what they were like as kids.
“We were just regular kids but we didn’t have games or toys, so we were forced to play together using only our imaginations.”
Their passion for wine began when they got older and began letting their imaginations run wild.
“It all just started from wine. When we were working together, we drank wine, and we began thinking about seeing the story in wine.”
“We try not to drink every day!” the translator added as Shin and Yuko chuckled.
Benny then asked Shin and Yuko how one should properly enjoy wine.
“First, enjoy it slowly. Wine takes time to open up. Even when the wine is in the glass, little by little it is changing the flavor and aroma, especially after about 30 minutes. And also, if you don’t drink alcohol a lot, that probably makes you a good taster.”
What’s nice about Shin and Yuko’s method of wine-tasting is that all you need to have to find a good wine for yourself is an imagination. You don’t have to be trained to know what good wine is supposed to be or born with a wine-tasting tongue, you just sip the wine and think about where it takes you, what it reminds you of, or how it makes you feel. It’s going to be different for everyone, and that’s totally okay.
At this point, Benny is offered his own glass of red wine.
“I notice people swirl their wine a lot. Why do people do that?” Benny asked.
“The key point is aeration. It opens up the wine. There are so many components in the wine that are still sleeping, but they open up when it is aerated.”
“Red or white wine, which do you prefer?” Benny asks.
The answer was a resounding red.
“Red wine has a more complex taste and more history in it. It speaks to us. It has more of a story to tell.”
Shin and Yuko then revealed how they curated the incredible list of wines they used in the manga since they are all good wines you can find in the real world. The siblings revealed they only chose wines that made them feel something.
“We chose only really good ones we really liked. The wine had to give us some kind of image or story when we drank it.”
At this point, shin pulls out a little baggy of what looks like vitamin supplements. “What are those?” asks Benny.
“We are actually working on a line of supplements because we drink every day. There’s iron, turmeric, and many others that help someone digest alcohol faster.”
As their time began wrapping up, Benny asked perhaps one of the most important questions you could ask a couple of creative masters: “How do you stay successful and inspired in a tough creative industry like manga?”
“You shouldn’t stay inside the house. Go out and meet people. When I have a problem, I go to see and talk to people. It ALWAYS gives me ideas and solutions. It’s important to be curious about everything. Human beings are social animals, so it’s important to meet people.
“Creativity is like a sixth sense. You have to go out, meet people, feel things… that’s what leads to creation.”
Satisfied with the sage advice, full of delicious food, and perhaps a little buzzed, Benny thanked Shin and Yuko for the lovely conversation to head home for the night (with a DD of course).