When it comes to literary fixes, wine lovers get theirs with “The Drops of God,” the Japanese manga series about a beer salesman who must use his gifted palate to win a valuable wine inheritance.
The best-selling comic by sibling co-authors Yuko and Shin Kibayashi exploded last September when the first volume was published in English. In the second book, which followed last December, Shizuku and his sidekick Myabi must source wines for a blind tasting that will determine which country—France or Italy--produces superior wines.
Those familiar with the books know France is favored. Meanwhile, the book’s villain, Chosuke Honma, is determined to prove that Italian wines are the best. Aren’t they equally incredible wine-producing nations? Don’t both their wines offer value, food-friendliness, and ageability? Can’t we all just get along?
We can’t let an evil, temperamental salesman represent Italy, so we reached out to Vicky Schmitt-Vitali of Chianti’s Fattoria Le Fonti, a family winery producing award-winning sangiovese, to comment on world perceptions of Italian wines.
Schmitt-Vitali: I think the French were smart in doing good marketing very early for their products. Italy had very little quality control in the 1950s and 1960s and released some horrible wines which, for many people, still represent the image of Italian wines today. It is a whole generation that is difficult to convince that Italian wines today are often much better than French wines and mostly at better price points.
Bottlenotes: Do you believe the perception is stronger in certain wine-consuming nations?
Schmitt-Vitali: In the United Kingdom, the French have always had the advantage, and even today if you give the average person two bottles to choose from, one being some simple French country wine against some important Italian wine of quality, 80 percent would probably choose the French wine because it has been impounded upon them that French wines are the quality wines thanks to Champagne and Bordeaux being known as the top for many countries.
Bottlenotes: What about in America?
Schmitt-Vitali: I think Americans are often used to the big California wines and don’t always understand the indigenous grapes Italy has to offer, or that Italian wines need to be paired with food in order to be enjoyed 100 percent. Another problem is that Italian wines are not known by their varieties but rather their locations, like Baroloand Asti. This makes it more difficult for many wine drinkers in the United States.
Do you prefer Italian or French wine? Tell us below.
Photo Credit: May S. Young