I am a wine idiot. I truly could not tell you the difference between wines beyond being able to identify that some are red and some are white. Which is why I’m thrilled that I’m not Camille Leger (played by Fleur Geffrier), the protagonist of Apple TV+’s new series Drops of God, who’s tasked with identifying a single bottle of wine’s origin and vintage in order to inherit her estranged father’s multimillion-dollar wine collection.
Two things stand in Camille’s way. The first is, of course, her complete lack of wine knowledge. She also has major trauma from the tasting lessons her father gave her when she was a child, when he’d blindfold her and require her to identify foods after a single bite. The other problem is that she’s got competition: Issei Tomine (Yamashita Tomohisa), her late father’s protege and an expert oenologist, also stands to inherit the collection if he can best Camille in identifying the wine. Camille’s father described Tomine as his “spiritual son,” though the series drops plenty of hints early on that his relationship to the deceased Leger may actually be closer than he — or Camille — knows.
While the subject of wine expertise does not seem, on its face, an especially compelling topic, Drops of God deftly weaves long-suppressed family dysfunction, childhood trauma, and the nuances of oenology into a series that’s worth watching, even if you don’t know a thing about wine. The show, which premiered on Apple TV+ on April 21, is loosely based on the 2004 Japanese manga series of the same name. Drops of God was written by the sibling duo Yuko and Shin Kibayashi, both of whom are wine enthusiasts with vast bottle collections, under the pseudonym Tadashi Agi. The manga series was praised for its realistic portrayal of the world of high-end wine tasting, making that often insular and incredibly technical field more accessible to audiences.
The 2023 TV adaptation is equally compelling. The story is told in Japanese, French, and English, depending on where the scene takes place. The deceased Leger gives both Camille and Issei a month to correctly identify the wine, so Camille travels from her dad’s home in Tokyo to a vineyard in France, where the focus shifts to her crash-course in wine education. Meanwhile, Issei has to figure out whether or not he’s going to stop screwing around with wine and get a real job, or take the competition seriously.
In watching just the first two episodes, I feel like I’m getting set up for an actual wine education, one that’s far more likely to teach me a thing or two about varietals and vintages than listening to an overly excited sommelier try to explain tasting notes in the middle of a restaurant dinner. (This is no knock at sommeliers; I am impossible to teach.) The series manages to turn the simple experience of wine tasting into high-stakes drama, where everything from its color to its viscosity is an essential clue, necessary to solve the mystery at the series’ core.
Via its striking and moody cinematography and a bracing soundtrack, Drops of God also takes great advantage of the inherent tension in the practice of blind wine tasting. Learning how to expertly taste wine is something that takes years of study, and Camille’s expected to absorb a lifetime of expertise in just a few weeks. And as if being asked to notice hints of clay or earth or apricot in a bottle of fermented grape juice isn’t difficult enough, it’s especially so when that knowledge — or the lack thereof — is standing in between you and a giant fortune.
As such, even if the only thing you know about wine is that you like it cheap and plentiful, Drops of God manages to make something as seemingly dry and boring as oenology into a high-stakes, exciting drama. Here, intermingling the pursuit of wine perfection with familial expectation and the scars of childhood makes for one hell of a story.
And at the very least, even if these eight sophisticated and subdued episodes won’t turn you into an actual wine expert (or a millionaire, sadly), you’ll definitely pick up a few wine phrases that will impress your friends at dinner. Who knew that drinking wine could be this intriguing?
The first two episodes of Drops of God are streaming now on Apple+. New episodes drop weekly.