Updated: Mar 17, 2021
When people think about Japan, most would immediately think about Japanese Food, like Sushi, Ramen, or Tempura.
But apart from food, what is one thing many around the world are drawn to Japan for? "Manga"!
Manga means 'comics' in Japanese, still not sure what I'm referring to?
Here are some famous manga you probably have heard of: Doraemon, One Piece, Naruto, Dragon Ball.
How popular is Manga in Japan you may ask? Well, according to some research, it is said that residents in Japan spend at least $30 dollars each year on mangas.
And wine is no exception.
In fact, there are many mangas out there about wine in general, for instance one called 'Sommelier' that essentially is a manga series that document a Japanese Sommelier's journey around the world looking for his ultimate bottle of wine. Or another manga called "日本ワインに首ったけ" which documents stories or episodes about each of the different wineries around Japan, and the characteristics of the different wine regions.
There is one manga however that I strongly recommend.
It is called "ワイン一年生", which translates into "Freshman in Wine".
Have included a link to the e-book version of the manga, can check it out if interested.
ワイン一年生 (Freshman in Wine)
So why do I recommend this manga?
It is extremely creative: the author of this manga described himself as an 'otaku' , which means 'geek' in Japanese. Now a sommelier and a wine bar owner, he wishes to explain the fundamentals about wine in the simplest way possible, hoping to make the experience of 'drinking wine' ten times more fun for the readers after understanding the basics. In this comic book, the author characterized each of the dominant grape varieties into different comic characters. For instance, Cabernet Sauvignon as a top male elite student at school, Chardonnay as a friendly female idol, Pinot Noir as a hard-to-approach beauty with class etc.
It is very interesting to read: different from the more mainstream 'textbook' style of many books on wine, with this manga, basically you will have 1 page of manga for every 2 pages of content. The switch between pure words and information and interesting manga with storyline helps make the reading experience very fun and smooth. It is a manga that can easily be finished in less than a week.
It is very informative: in addition to the creativity, this manga is very informative, with lots of information not just from the theoretical side, but also from the practical side. Some highlights of the main sections in the manga include:
Fundamentals of wine (varietals, label, price, taste, terroir, storage, manner, pairing etc.)
Old world (France, Italy, Spain, Germany)
New world (America, Australia, New Zealand, Chili, Argentina, South Africa, Japan)
Who do I recommend this to?
Beginners in wine: if you are a beginner in wine, this book is for you. I'm sure many of us are simply wine-lovers. It may be a beverage that you prefer to drink when hanging out with friends, or when dining out, but in reality, you do not know much about wine apart from the more dominant or popular varieties. But just like anything in life, it is a lot more fun if you understand about the subject. You will be able to know a lot more than average consumers after reading this book.
Those learning Japanese: if you already have a certain degree of knowledge about wine, there likely will be overlaps in content from this comic versus what you already know, but I'd still recommend it if you are learning Japanese, or are interested in learning it. As you have heard, Japan is not the best nation in the world when it comes to 'English'. Visitors to the country will often encounter situations where Japanese people are slightly afraid if and when approached by with an English-speaking person. So what do you do? Learn Japanese. It will without a doubt make your next trip to Japan ten times smoother and more fun.