MIDWAY:Wine’s worth

It reads like Tintin, and may reverse the slow decline of old-world wine sales. It may also help turn a generation of binge-drinking teenagers into wine connoisseurs. It is a Japanese manga series called The Drops of God. In Japan, Korea, China and France, millions of fans, teenagers and adults, are hooked on the adventures of Shizuku. The son of a brilliant but tyrannical wine expert, Shizuku was trained as a child to decant wine for his father and to recognise the world blindfolded, using just his nose.

Yet Shizuku is a rebel. He has never tasted the stuff nonetheless works in a brewery. His dying father’s answer is to adopt a gifted young Japanese wine taster as a second son. He then pits his two sons against one another. They have to find 12 mysterious wines called the 12 apostles, and one last, the best of them all, the Drops of God.

The Drops of God goes back to basics, reinventing a world where good wine doesn’t have to cost much. For the authors praise both grand and small wines, such as Italian Colli di Conegliano, a red table wine to be enjoyed every day by the family. When translated into English, The Drops of God could do for British teenagers and their parents what it’s doing for the French: opening their eyes to the real value of wine, reappropriating it as a gift to share, rather than a financial investment for the rich.

When, at an auction in 2006, Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe sold the entire contents of the town’s cellar, giving the proceeds to charity, he followed the same trend that put wine in a lonely place next to impressionist paintings. Parisians were enraged: their mayor had made a profound political mistake. By selling off magnificently ripe bottles to rich collectors, he had missed the essential nature of wine - fraternity.

Had Delanoe read The Drops of God then, he would surely have chosen to raise money through a EUR1-a-ticket lottery, offering winners the chance to share the divine juice with friends. Anti-alcohol campaigners shouldn’t see in this manga series the spearhead of a new wave of world debauchery, but rather they should thank the Japanese for a fantastic educational tool, one that can help teach the joy of wine to teenagers and adults alike.