Shizuku Kanzaki stumbles upon a family-run French restaurant that's in danger of closing down from loss of business following a scathing review a year earlier from none other than Shizuku's bitter rival, Issei Tomine, with whom he's supposed to compete for his inheritance. Shizuku vows to help the owner get a glowing review when his former critic returns for a second opinion and sets out to figure out what went wrong the first time. Meanwhile, Shizuku and his friend Miyabi Shinohara are also trying to put together a trio of inexpensive French wines to beat out his outspoken co-worker, who's a militant supporter of Italian wines (and, for some reason, a hater of all things French), in a tasting at their offices--and the future of their new wine division could depend on the results. And then, of course, there's the race for the inheritance, which the boys have been putting off...till now.
I may not retain all the information about names and vineyards and classes of wine that these characters are trying to teach each other, but little bits (like the concepts of mariage and terroir) are starting to sink in and make me feel ever so slightly more knowledgeable than I was before. (I wish I had a well-stocked wine cellar!) I'm also enjoying the characters and the story that goes along with the lessons. Funny, (melo-) dramatic, and enlightening, this series. There's certainly a high incidence of coincidence and a definite cheeze factor, but I'm finding that's all part of the fun, too. I'm excited now that Shizuku and Tomine have officially begun the search for the first of the Twelve Apostles. They've got three weeks to track down a single wine from nothing but a flowery, metaphor-ridden description. I'm sure they'll find it, but who'll get there first? And what other life-lessons will they learn along the way?