A glass of wine with Crisanta Duran

The Colorado Statesman

Since my last two pieces about wine contained no real politics at all, it is time to get back to our original theme. It’s been a while since Politics Uncorked contained a one-on-one with a local legislator, and now that the session is over, everyone is a bit easier to get in touch with.

It was suddenly pouring down rain and being without an umbrella, I felt the need to be prissy and valet my car to avoid greeting my happy hour companion looking like a wet dog. State Rep. Crisanta Duran, Democrat from Denver’s House District 5 met me at Elway’s Restaurant in Cherry Creek last Thursday evening for a glass of vino. I was waiting at a table near the bar. She, too, was holding a valet ticket in her hand when she arrived and relieved to be indoors.

State Rep. Crisanta Duran, Democrat from Denver’s House District 5 at Elway’s Restaurant.
Photo by Kimberly Dean/The Colorado Statesman

I had never met the legislator, and we hit it off immediately. I think it took us ten minutes to make a decision and order our wine. I drink both red and white, and which one I choose usually depends first upon the weather, second on what I plan to eat for dinner. That evening I felt like red might somehow make me a bit warmer.

Rep. Duran is primarily a white-wine drinker, as it turns out. Chardonnay is one of her “favorites.” I ordered from the “interesting reds” section of the wine menu. You can get “boring red” anywhere. So I had a glass of Quarterback, Red Blend, by McLaren Vale, Australia, $10.75 a glass. I could tell from the nose that this was about to be a perfect glass of wine. I don’t always get that feeling. Then I took a sip. Marvelous. The tasting notes are as follows: “Quarterback is full- bodied, ripe, and sweetly-fruited on the palate, yet it manages to retain a sense of elegance. It delivers an enticing bouquet of floral notes, spice box, black cherry, and blueberry on the finish.” Yum.

Rep. Duran ordered her Chardonnay, Domaine Du Salvard, Cheverny. Loire Valley, France. $9.50 per glass. I didn’t taste it, obviously, but the Representative said she found it to be “a little dry” and a bit oaky, as Chardonnay tends to be, which normally makes it one of my least favorite wines. There have been exceptions, however, such as La Crema, from California. Notes on the Domaine Du Salvard: “Pale yellow color. Floral tropical fruit nose. Tastes of apple, lemon, and canteloupe. Nice minerality. Well balanced. Slight tart citrus dominated finish.”

Somewhat of a random question, Rep. Duran asked me if I knew that John Elway was a Republican. It had never occurred to me whether an establishment where I would interview someone might be owned by someone of a different party from whom I was interviewing. I replied, “No, not really. However, if I interview a Republican next time, we shall drink at a Democrat-owned restaurant to balance things out.” Duran is a huge Broncos fan and likes John Elway. Apparently, so do a lot of other people Duran knows, as she started pointing out other well-known locals she recognized, such as Maria Garcia-Berry and Tammy Door. Turns out this is a hot spot!

When questioned on the topic of how she’s enjoying her political job at the moment, she said that she “ran on the idea of building bridges in HD 5.” The geographic diversity of her district “makes Denver a great community over all.”

Over the next hour and a half, we talked about growing up in interesting cities like Denver and New York, family, socio-economics, motorcycles, “change,” and even race. Yes, I said “motorcycles.” Both her parents and brother have, at some point in time, all had their own bikes, and I think I may have been successful in talking her into taking the motorcycle course herself, (since she now has a small window of opportunity this summer). I’ll have to check back on that one, having gone through the course myself last year.

When I asked her about her wine knowledge, she said that everything she knows about wine, she learned from her motorcycle-riding mom. It is a big hobby of hers, and she always makes sure the right wine is paired with meals she serves. Rep. Duran’s own experience is such that she just knows what she likes. We like that at Politics Uncorked. We make our own rules here.

As we nursed our glasses of wine (mine was uncommonly delicious), I talked about how I came to like red wine and feel that it can be an acquired taste. To keep it short, a friend saw me drinking white zinfandel in another life and literally dumped it out in the sink behind the bar (we worked in a tapas bar that only served wine and beer, and we were at the end of our shift.) She said I was officially “off” white zinfandel. She then poured me a glass of red zinfandel from Australia, and I was hooked.

Rep. Duran basically said she just has a thing about it being room temperature. Fair enough. At least she is someone who would drink something that is meant to be cold, rather than keep their red wine in the refrigerator or (nature forbid) add ice cubes to it (gasp)! We talked about how your tastes change as you go through life, whether about politics, wine, or life in general.

As our time together drew to a close, I needed to ask the question about Rep. Duran’s involvement with Chris Romer during the mayoral election. “There was some controversy recently regarding yourself and Chris Romer. Can you tell me about that?” Rep. Duran looked disappointed that this had to come up since we were having such a nice time exchanging ideas and stories, yet seemed to half-expect the question. She explained that she did, indeed, start out endorsing James Mejia, then Chris Romer in the run-off election, but Rep. Duran actually donated money to Michael Hancock in the run-off election before switching her support to Chris Romer because of his stance on immigration.

Earlier in the evening, Rep. Duran told me a story about growing up in the Arvada area, and as a child, being asked by another, “Do you have a green card?” She remembers asking, “What’s a green card?” A sixth-generation American like myself, she didn’t even know what that meant. The conclusion was that it was obviously a phrase that the child had heard from someone older, indicating incorrect assumptions; what we would call today, “racial profiling.” She said the joke back then was, “We didn’t cross the border. The border crossed us.”

Rep. Duran made a tough call when she backed Romer and went on the offense for him, and doesn’t seem bothered by any talk surrounding her choice. She got into politics to make a difference, “to give a voice to the voiceless,” she said. “I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty for the right reasons.”

Apparently, she’s not afraid of much, and that’s probably a good thing if she’s going to be riding a motorcycle out there with the rest of us.