Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Blind Ambition Review – rags-to-riches story is important lesson for wine industry

Published:  19 August, 2022

Blind Ambition is a documentary film that follows the journeys of four Zimbabwean migrants who separately discover wine in South Africa before joining forces to compete at the World Blind Tasting Championships in Burgundy.

After fleeing their homeland following the Zimbabwe crisis of 2008, the four men – Joseph Dhafana, Marlvin Gwese, Tinashe Nyamudoka, and Pardon Taguzu – find themselves working up the South African culinary ladder, at first as gardeners or waiters before emerging as top sommeliers in the country’s finest restaurants. 

This in itself would be a rags-to-riches story worthy of Hollywood adaptation – but the film soon enters into Cool Runnings territory as the quartet join forces to form Zimbabwe’s first-ever blind tasting team. 

As Jancis Robinson MW pointed out, the odds were stacked against them: “Being in Cape Town on a tight budget is really very, very trying. The world of wine is very bad at diversity. It’s white faces, wall to wall.”

Robinson forms a part of the supporting cast after launching a crowdfunding initiative to help the team get to France. 

Another ensemble member, and arguably the story’s villain, is Denis Garret, the eccentric former sommelier brought on as the coach, who seems to cause more harm than good to team Zimbabwe’s chances of winning.

Thankfully, none of this detracts from the four central characters, who are incredibly wholesome, funny and charismatic – and living proof that the niche world of wine can only benefit from more diversity.

In one scene, the team gathers around a bbq with wine glasses in hand. When one of the four correctly guesses the wine – grape, region, vintage et al., the group self-combusts into a frenzy of laughter, cheering and fist-pumping.

It is refreshing to see four men discern and taste wine to an elite standard with an uncomplicated joy, devoid of the elitist pretensions that so often hold back the industry. 

Blind Ambition reminds the viewer of why we grew to love wine in the first place whilst holding up a mirror to the mountain of work that needs to be done to make the world of wine more inclusive. 

Blind Ambition is in selected cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema.