How Accurate is the Drops of God Series?
I enjoy wine related shows, books, and movies. As a Master Sommelier and founder of San Francisco Wine School, I live and breathe wine, so I had to watch this new series, Drops of God. I have seen some of the original manga Drops of God and it was flawless in how it talked about wine. But the Apple TV series went off the rails in episode 3. In my opinion, Drops of God dropped the ball, or was it a goblet? SPOILER AHEAD
Don’t get me wrong, I started streaming the series a bit later than many, but am enjoying it. It is entertaining, but the competing blind tasters, Camille and Issei, are being treated like super heroes with genetic mutations or Shaolin like secret training that allows them to identify wine down to the producer and exact vintage on nose alone.
How Do You Blind Taste Wine Anyway?
Wine professionals, don't have super powers. They use deductive blind tasting technique to identify the structure of wines to determine climate, maturity, grape varieties and apply knowledge of the world’s wines and their palate memory to eliminate wines until there are few options left. To blindly identify the correct grapes, region, quality, and maturity is considered "nailing a wine", but getting the wrong winery and/or wrong vintage of comparable maturity, style, and quality is hardly a miss. Even winemakers fail to identify their own wines regularly in blind flights. Enough about that since it’s the least of my complaints.
Can You Identify a Wine by Smell Alone?
Aromas of celery and truffles, oh my! A grape that can make both white and red wine, really? This is the heart of my concern with the series' apparent lack of a wine consultant. Through sniffing vials of Les Nez du Vin, an expensive kit of scented oils, Camille starts to remember the smell of the wine she was presented in the lawyer’s office. One by one she remembers the wine’s aromas.
First of all, I find Les Nez du Vin to be useless. Most of what you smell is retro nasally (through your mouth) and you can’t taste these chemical kits without a trip to the emergency room. They are artificial and not in a wine base. Also, the idea of days and weeks later identifying a dozen different aromas is preposterous to me. But I accept this if she is a Wine Avenger with super powers from her home planet in another galaxy. But I digress.
Can a Red Grape Make Red and White Wine?
Camille's coaches decide that her recalled aroma memory of celery is never in red wine. Wait, a few decades ago the winemaker tasted such a wine! Off they go to the Loire Valley to find that winemaker. This rare wine, Gigon Lignage, is completely made up. Why? But wait, this mystical grape is an anomaly in that it can make both white and red wine. SCREECH!!! Um... all red grapes can make white, rose, or red wine depending on if there is skin-juice contact, and if so, how much. There's nothing to see here with this one, folks.
Are Truffle Aromas Only Found in Cabernet?
Camille then starts to have doubts and now mentions celery root and then has an epiphany that it’s actually truffle. Problem solved because truffle aromas are only ever found in Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc, right? WTF?!?!? I often find truffle and other mushroom aromas in many red wines. My first thought would be Nebbiolo from Barolo, but I get it in many red Burgundies too. Last week it popped up in both St Laurent from Austria and Xinomavro from Greece. But back to the show.
Are Vega Sicilia and Chateau Cheval Blanc Cabernet Dominated Blends? (or remotely similar wines?)
Since they’re now sure it was truffle that Camile smelled, it can thus only be one of two wines in the world, Vega Sicilia or Chateau Cheval Blanc. Slow down Captain Wine Taster & Super Team. Vega Sicilia is predominantly Tempranillo and Cheval Blanc is a Merlot, Cabernet Franc blend. These 2 wines are totally different blends grown in drastically different soils and climates. There are literally thousands of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc varietal wines and blends. How did they get to these 2 wines?
My head hurts. I’m going back for episode 4 and Camille and Issei better be wearing f...ing capes.
About David Glancy
is the founder of San Francisco Wine School
and one of only 12 people in the world to earn both the Master Sommelier and Certified Wine Educator credentials, both of which include blind tasting exams. He has taught blind tasting and other wine classes for the last 20 years.