Saturday, September 10, 2022

Weekend Cooking: Blind Ambition

I don't know about you, but when I am thinking about the great wine regions of the world, places like France, California, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa are the ones that come to mind. One country that does not readilly come to mind is Zimbabwe. So, it is something of a surprise to watch a movie about the Zimbwabwean Wine Tasting team.

Every year, national teams from around the world travel to France to compete for the coveted title of 'World Wine Tasting Champion'.  24 teams from countries around the world, must identify the grape variety, the country, the region, the producer and the vintage and the team that gets the most factors correct over the course of the competition wins. The Olympics of wine tasting, if you will. 

Tinashe, Joseph, Pardon and Marlvin are all Zimbabwean refugees who moved to South Africa for a better life.  As Joseph says the fact that he ended up working with wine means that he is "living a life for which I had never planned". After crossing the border illegally into South Africa Joseph started working in the garden for a restauranteur. While he didn't enjoy his first taste of wine, it was enough to make him curious about it and from there a career was born.

He isn't the only one who had never had wine before. Marlvin comes from a very religious family where alcohol was definitely not allowed, so he had never tasted wine before he came to South Africa. His family have had to accept that maybe that wine might be Gods's plan for him.

Whilst we learn more about each of the men's backgrounds and their personal struggles to get to where they are now, there is also the struggle to get Team Zimbambwe to the championship. They have to raise £6500 to even enter the competition, they need to do as much training as they possibly can and they have to find someone to coach them.

One of things that is a challenge for this group is that many of the more traditional reference points in wine tasting, like being able to taste berries on your palate, are not the fruits that you are familiar with if you grew up in Zimbabwe. Maybe I need to do some more training as I am not sure I can ever taste the lingering aftertaste of apricots, or whatever it is that you are supposed to be able to taste in wine.

The training for the competition is intense. At first they train with the South African coach, but once they make it to Europe the training really ramps up. They take a route through many of the famous wine regions, tasting different types of wine whilst travelling, at truck stops, in the middle of the night. Whatever it takes.

They hire an irascible, very opinionated French coach who ends up being an interesting character but also ends up being problematic.

One of the comparisons that I have seen around the place is with the Jamaican bob sleigh team so famously portrayed in the movie Cool Runnings. This is a very different movie, in that it is more documentary and deliberately more serious. This is a feel good story at it's heart about a group of men who overcome adversity, who are lucky ones who make a success of their new life, and who don't forget how lucky they are and where they come from.

The producers have made another movie about wine called Red Obsession which I will watch at some point too.

 Weekly meals

Saturday - 
Sunday -  
Monday - Pork chops with mash
Tuesday - Beef broccoli mushrooms
Wednesday - Take Away
Thursday - Pork Nachos
Friday - Take away

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page


  1. This sounds like a genuinely upbeat movie.

  2. That's a great story! I'm going to look for that movie.

  3. Oh No, I did it AGAIN! You can delete the first link from me, I put the wrong one in. I meant to link In My Kitchen. Sorry about that!

  4. Sounds like an extraordinary story, thanks for sharing

  5. I simply like wine. I cannot discern all the subtle flavour notes either.

    1. Me either Jackie! And I don't practice drinking wine enough to learn really!

  6. It was certainly interesting and entertaining!