If Blind Ambition were a drama, the elevator pitch would surely be Cool Runnings but make it wine”, and frankly you’d be amazed if Disney or Netflix weren’t sniffing around already – on paper, this is winning stuff. We follow four young refugees through a textbook cinematic trope: underdogs entering a niche event dominated by snobby affluence. In this case, it’s the oddball world of competitive wine tasting, with our heroes forming Zimbabwe’s first ever team to compete in the annual World Blind Tasting Championships – “the Olympics of the wine world”. The quartet head out on a European tasting tour in order to broaden their palettes and learn new flavours, in the process rejecting the advice of the coach who nurtured them and prepared them for the competition in favour of a new, shadier mentor whose shortcomings might be their undoing as they head to the big finale in France. Were this fiction then amongst the plummy, earthy notes of a fruity Bordeaux and the zesty cut grass of a crisp Chardonnay, you might well be detecting the smell of machine-tooled, heart-string pulling success. Throw in the fact that our four heroes are fleeing poverty, violence and brutal unrest in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, and it practically feels like Oscar bait.

Blind Ambition, however, is a documentary, not a drama, and the bare bones of the tale are absolutely true. This really happened. The four young men in question all fled Zimbabwe for South Africa during the unrest in 2008 and settled there. Each found their way into the service industry, and each, in different ways, fell in love with the magic and complexity of wine, becoming restaurateurs and sommeliers. The coach of South Africa’s tasting team – then the only nation on the entire continent to take part in the event – suggested they band together and enter on behalf of Zimbabwe, and a crowdfunding campaign caught the attention of some international wine elites, helping them to raise their funds. The next thing you know, they’re heading for Europe, film crew in tow.

The story is inspiring, though the documentary telling it is occasionally a little pedestrian. We get the backstories of each of the team, following their journeys and reasons for leaving their home at great personal risk, but those stories always feel a little brief, with father-and-son directing team Coe and Ross, who previously worked together on another wine-based tale, 2013’s Red Obsession, apparently keen to get back to the thrust of their narrative – the journey to the championships and the personal conflicts around it. There’s something admirable there – displaced people are, after all, more than merely a tragic backstory. The film, however, never quite strikes the right balance, relying on underdog cosiness instead of fully committing to some of the blunter personal and political factors that brought these four very different men to the same place. It feels like something important is left, if not exactly unsaid, then certainly less explored than it could be. A missed opportunity.

That’s not to say the narrative doesn’t work – it absolutely does. Ross and Coe have assembled a likeable and reasonably compelling underdog tale in which, as viewers, we’re satisfyingly invested. We root for TeamZIM as they sniff, swill and spit their way into the snobby and exclusive world of wine. Of course we do: the film and its subjects have bags of charm. It’s a story with legs, to be sure. It’s just difficult to shake the feeling that there’s a sharper and more important tale hiding at the bottom of the bottle