Movie Review: Refugees Turned Sommeliers

It’s impossible not to smile along with this feelgood documentary about four Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa who got jobs in restaurants, discovered in themselves a brilliant talent for wine-tasting and in 2017 were brought together as the exiled team Zimbabwe for the World Blind Wine Tasting Championships in France, with the help of expatriate French sommelier Jean Vincent Ridon and wine guru Jancis Robinson who masterminded the crowdfunded sponsorship. Joseph Dhafana, Marlvin Gwese, Tinashe Nyamudoka and Pardon Taguzu are all smart and personable young men who have endured great hardship and danger to make it over the border into South Africa as refugees after the Zimbabwean crisis of 2008, and continue to face crime and poverty that is still a problem in South Africa. The comedy in their story comes when they hire a local French expert to be their coach for the championships. This turns out to be a very eccentric and difficult man called Denis Garret who is partly deaf from a shooting accident, which becomes hair-raisingly problematic when during the competition itself he is entrusted to write down their choices for nationality and grape etc and appears to mishear the whispered “Australia” for “Austria”. He will surely be played by Gérard Depardieu in the feature remake.


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