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African Kings and Queens

by Randy Fuller Sep 23, 2020

Pairing‌ ‌wine‌ ‌with‌ ‌movies!‌  ‌See‌ ‌the‌ ‌trailers‌ ‌and‌ ‌hear‌ ‌the‌ ‌fascinating‌ ‌commentary‌ ‌for‌ ‌these‌ ‌movies‌ ‌and‌ ‌many‌ ‌more‌ ‌at‌ ‌Trailers‌ ‌From‌ ‌Hell.‌  ‌We’re pairing wines with films about African kings and queens this week, a royally pleasurable pandemic diversion.

Zulu Dawn was the 1979 prequel to 1964’s Zulu.  Zulu Dawn is about the 1879 Battle of Isandlwana, in which some 20,000 Zulu warriors decimated the British military in South Africa.  Incredibly, Zulu was about the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, later that same day, in which the British repelled a somewhat smaller attacking force.  That’s what you call getting the most from your source material.

Michael Caine appeared in the 1964 film, which was narrated by Richard Burton.  Fifteen years later, the stars came out for Zulu Dawn, with the likes of Peter O’Toole, Burt Lancaster and John Mills starring.  Trouble is, people didn’t seem to like the latter movie as much as the earlier one.

A South African wine is what we want to pair with Zulu Dawn, and Zulu,  for that matter.  The nation’s notable grape, Pinotage, makes an earthy wine that’s blood-red.  Pinotage has taken a lot of criticism through the years for smelling of paint and tasting like rusty nails.  Let’s call it an acquired taste.  Spier Pinotage is described in notes befitting a Merlot or Shiraz, and costs 75 South African Rand – about five bucks.


If you’d like to sample some of South Africa’s lovely white wines for Zulu, try Man Family Wines Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc, probably around $10 each.


The African Queen features Hollywood royalty – Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, namely.  The 1951 classic won Bogie his only Oscar.  The film is set in German East Africa, in 1914, as Germany and Britain enter into WWI.  Bogart’s boat – The African Queen – turns into an action-packed river cruise, charged with getting him and Hepburn in position to attack a German gunboat.

Hepburn’s character dumps Bogart’s supply of gin overboard at one point, and we have to dock her for that grievous error.  It is noted that Bogart and director John Huston were the only two cast members who didn’t get sick with dysentery.  That’s because they reportedly lived on Scotch whisky during the shooting schedule.  L’Chaim.

I’d like to suggest pairing Hendrick’s Gin with The African Queen, not merely because the striking apothecary bottle makes it look like medicine.  Hepburn’s character is named Rose, and the cucumber and rose notes in Hendrick’s are as delicate as Hepburn was tough.