My friends and I embarked on an adventure about a week ago to visit the Don Quixote Distillery and Winery (DQ). A couple of months ago, we all purchased a LivingSocial deal for a three hour wine class and decided to make this a girls’ afternoon out. Little did we know what was in store for us.
It’s a short drive to the tasting room located right outside of Santa Fe. Ron Dolin and his wife, Olha, own the distillery and over the years it has evolved to become a distillery and winery (not to be confused with a vineyard). They get most of their grapes from New Mexico and some from California to create their wide selection of spirits and wines. For many years DQ was the one and only distillery in New Mexico; now there are two more in the state. This is the second year they’ve had tasting classes. With Ron’s background in chemical engineering and Olha’s family traditions and recipes for spirits, they have a winning combination to be successful in this business.
The tasting class was a very impressive and comprehensive one. It was like an extended cocktail hour with a tasting menu supplemented with a history lesson. The class size was about 20 and each participant was given a packet of reading material and an actual syllabus containing information on wine history and facts, terminology, tasting and pairing, and the distillation process. Included in the packet was an impressive list of wines and spirits we were to taste during the class- a total of 29! The thought that this was an absurd and quixotic adventure to embark on crossed each of our minds. Could we make it through the class without passing out and ending up in a drunken stupor?
With Ron as our guide we accomplished the impossible- to taste, learn and retain information with out ending up drunk. The class was three hours+ giving us plenty of time to pace ourselves while enjoying the food and company. One of the most interesting things we learned was that New Mexico (not California) played the leading role in the history of American wines, specifically Angelica. Our adventure took us from white to red to dessert wines, then on to ports, and ending with spirits. The dessert wines had very provocative names like Passion, Temptation, and Desire. Seduction, a rose herbal wine (Olha’s family recipe), was a favorite among everyone for its unique flavor. Having food available was essential. With a handy food pairing guide and plenty of food -cheeses, meats, breads, dips, chocolate, pickles, peppers, and olives- everyone completed the class with a clear head and a full stomach.
After 4.5 hours of tasting, our adventure came to an end. We all came away with a wealth of knowledge and I finally learned to drink spirits without burning my throat. Since DQ products are not sold in stores in Albuquerque, we loaded up on wines and spirits to take home. I plan on sharing with my extended family when we meet for Thanksgiving in Texas. I am sure they will be impressed.
- DQ is best known for their Blue Corn Bourbon and Vodka.
- Don’t eat before the tasting because there’s plenty of food.
- They have an on-line store and can ship out of state.
- They also sell extracts.
Date visited: July 14, 2012