Distil Wine Tasting 101


Crisp and refreshing wine connoisseur Mark Duggan at Distil Beer Wine and Spirits in Farmington entertains wine tasters while teaching them that quality is better than quantity, and that quality wine can be affordable for nearly every wallet. By Donna Hewett. Sponsored by CMIT Solutions and Express Employment Professionals

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Wine tasting is the sensory examination in evaluation of wine. A constantly evolving specialized terminology is used to describe the range of perceived flavors, aromas, and general characteristics of a wine. But experiments have proven that most people, even professional tasters, can't tell Blanc from Grand Cru. That's what's so crisp and refreshing about Mark Duggan's Wine Tasting 101 class at Distil in Farmington. There's not a lot of sniffing and swirling going on, but there does seem to be an inordinate amount of laughter. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by Express Employment Professionals and CMIT Solutions. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

You noticed as I poured you couldn't read the label?


I kind of did that on purpose.


Why, Dwayne!

Hi, Dwayne?

I love filming in New Mexico, especially in the four corners. Please, thank your chamber of commerce. Thank you chamber of commerce.

Thank you, The Rock, it was my pleasure to have you.

Are there any native grapes in New Mexico? Dwayne, what a great question.

In between the jokes and hi-jinks Duggan hits his audience with delicious bits of history on wine, the many places it's grown, and all the different ways that it's made. He emphasizes that wine wasn't invented by the French or anyone else, but discovered over time, mostly by accident. Duggan likes to talk about grapes, not taste.

So they crossbred Cabernet Franc with Sauvignon Blanc to come up with Cabernet Sauvignon. That was one of the first cross-pollinations that they kind of worked on, on purpose. Although, they were doing the cross-pollination, but they didn't know what they were going to come up with.

Distil Beer Wine and Spirits is a high-end package liquor store, but with tables to sit at, a bar to enjoy draft beer, and Duggan's gregarious personality Distil feels more like a clubby neighborhood saloon, where, you guessed it, everyone knows your name. Neither stingy, nor snooty about sharing his vast knowledge of new and old world wines, Duggan doesn't use words, like earthy, complex, or jammy.

Mark was literally just the fountainhead of knowledge for wine coming to New Mexico. We have had almost a 20 year relationship of talking about the vines that have come into New Mexico from hundreds of years ago and all of the things that you just don't even realize are very local and very phenomenal. So I love learning about it. I think that if you're going to want to go on a journey of history, wine is the way to go because there's just so many cool things to know about it.

Duggan first tasted wine in the fourth grade, when his uncle brought some special bottles from Paris for his father in Albuquerque. That single sip led to a 40 year career in the wine business. As a wine connoisseur, he's passionate about the unending conflict between quality and quantity.

Quantity, if we want more juice, we squeeze a little harder, but when we squeeze a little harder, it crushes the grape seeds inside the musk and it creates a bitterness. It's that bitterness that we don't like, that we don't see in this wine because he doesn't want more wine, he wants better wine.

But at Distil, the good news is that quality wine doesn't correlate with price.

The monetary expense of a wine doesn't preclude the quality of the wine. Oftentimes, we can get very good quality wines for under $20. Here's a wine from Portugal, that was a Wine Spectator Top 100, Wine of the Year, four years ago. It's $14.49. Oop, wrong wine. Here's a bottle of white wine from New Zealand. Again, it was a Wine Spectator, Top 100 Wine and it was, at the time, $15. Due to inflation, it's now $19.

In an hour and a half, the crowd has tasted seven award-winning varietals from all over the world and everyone seems to have a hint of a buzz going, some more than others. By the end of the wine tasting, things did get a bit, well, sideways. Duggan's next class is called Rose' All Day. It'll take place at Distil in the next few weeks at 5920 East Main Street in Farmington. Cost is $25. To reserve a spot, go to distilbeerwinespirits.net. Thanks for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.


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