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Everything you need to throw a can't-miss New Year's Eve party at home

When it comes to fighting crowds for New Year's Eve or celebrating at home with our closest family and friends, we tend to stay in and host an easy wine-tasting party.

We love this kind of gathering because everyone on our guest list gets involved. As wines are opened and sampled, conversation flows. Plus, we all learn something, whether it's discovering a wine we've never tried or heard about someone's recipe for wine cocktails or ideas for using wine in cooking.

Pot-luck wine-tasting parties are especially fun. Everyone brings a different appetizer, adding another level to the tasting: Figuring out which appetizer goes best with each wine. Doing this kind of party, we've discovered that Carolina Red is a perfect match with a cranberry pecan cheese ball and tony Queen Anne's Revenge is pretty darn good with wings dipped in red pepper and onion ranch sauce.  

Both of those wines are in the 2022 Cheers to You Tasting Kit featuring 10 wines in all, plus Blueberry Freeze Sweetzer wine slushie mix, Duplin Gourmet Muscadine Red Pepper and Onion Relish, Duplin Gourmet Homemade Crackers and a recipe for using that relish in a spin on the famous cheese dip we serve in our tasting rooms.

The kit's wine tasting scorecard lets you and your guests keep notes. Print extra copies or direct guests to download the scorecard onto their phones via a QR code on the scorecard. 

If you've already purchased the kit, get your tasting started anytime with the video above. Follow along as top Duplin bartender, Frank guides you through each wine. Scroll down this blog post to find more tasting notes.  

How to taste wine like a Duplin pro

See. Swirl. Sniff. Sip. Savor. Use this 5-step system for each wine on the tasting sheet included in your kit. Here's how. 

See: First, hold a glass of wine up to a light and look at the color. It will allude to the variety of grape used and what the wine will taste like. Is it Scuppernong? Nobel? Carlos? Another? Color also indicates flavor. A bright, saturated hue often means more intense flavor. See if you can guess the grape and flavor before you sip.

Swirl: Consider the wine's body next. Swirl the wine in your glass to determine if it is light or heavy. You're looking for the viscous streaks running down the side of the glass after you swirl. They're called "legs." Sweeter wines will leave streaks cling or move slowly. That means a heavier body.

Sniff: After you swirl, really dip your nose into the glass and inhale the aroma, what wine pros call the "bouquet" or "nose." Pausing to experience the bouquet heightens your senses and anticipation of the first sip. Think about what you are smelling. Is it fruity? What kind of fruit? Berries? Ripe banana? Musky honeydew melon? Pure grape? Are you getting floral notes like honeysuckle or gardenia? See if you pick up unexpected smells like pine or fall leaves. Describe the bouquet and discuss it.  

Sip: Take a sip slightly larger than normal and hold the wine in your mouth for 3-5 seconds. Let the wine coat the tongue and the inside of your mouth. Wine releases more flavors as it warms on your taste buds. Before swallowing, purse your lips and breathe in gently, allowing the air to travel across the wine in your mouth to get the full flavor profile.

Do the flavors you're experiencing match the wine's nose? When and where are you tasting those flavors? Are you getting, say, banana bread on the first sip and then astringency or acidity at the end, which is called "the finish." Where do flavors hit you? On the tongue? On the side of your mouth.

Think back to the wine's body. Compare the texture of different wines, how they feel in your mouth. Light as water or heavier, like the texture of sweet iced tea? If you're sampling a sparkling wine, do the bubbles feel fine or medium in size. Compare your experience to the wine's description and see if it matches.

Savor: As you continue sipping, note how the sensation is slightly different from what you experienced when the wine was resting in your mouth on the first sip. This is the point when you taste and feel the wine's finish. As you continue tasting, note how the wine pairs with the Duplin Gourmet crackers and Muscadine Pineapple Habenero dip. See which wine you like best with those snacks and others you may be enjoying during your at-home or virtual tasting. Cheers!

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Cheers To You Tasting KitCheers To You Tasting Kit

Cheers to You Tasting Kit

Cheers To You Tasting Kit ScorecardCheers To You Tasting Kit Scorecard

Cheers to You Tasting Kit

Now, let's begin your wine tasting!

Moonlight BlissMoonlight Bliss

Moonlight Bliss

Those moonlit nights on the beach, waves whispering ashore, your toes in the soft, cool sand. Pure bliss. That's what inspired our newest white wine, perfect with grilled shrimp, steamed crab or a family-favorite dish of pasta alfredo. We like to have a glass with nothing but the full moon. Relax and let go with each sip of this fruity, not-too-sweet, not-too-dry muscadine wine.

Moonlight BlissMoonlight Bliss

Brice's Creek

Brices' Creek is named after a tiny community near New Bern, N.C., where pine forests are calming and peaceful.

Take time to notice the slight floral start. Do you sense jasmine? Yellow jessamine? Pay attention to the smooth finish and light alcohol bite. This wine’s complexity is thanks to a combination of Scuppernong and Niagara grapes. Niagara is not a muscadine grape but a native American vitis labrusca variety developed in Niagara County, N.Y.

Sangria WhiteSangria White

Sangria White

In 2015, Sangria White was released with its red wine partner, Sangria Red.

Made from a blend of ripened white muscadines, lemons, mangos and peaches, this wine is super refreshing to drink chilled. We also like to freeze fruit in ice cube trays to use as "ice cubes" to keep the wine chilled. You don't have to worry about diluting your wine and you also enhance the fruity, sweet flavor in each sip.

Coastal ShagCoastal Shag

Coastal Shag

The first red that we will be trying is our driest red wine, Coastal Shag. This red pairs with our Summertime Strut and features the Red Knot, another coastal Sandpiper that frequents both North and South Carolina shores.

This dry red wine is made from a blend of early harvested Muscadine grapes. It is light-bodied with a fruity start and a smooth finish.

Queen Anne's RevengeQueen Anne's Revenge

Queen Anne's Revenge

Blackbeard, the scourge of the Carolina shores, was a scoundrel of the highest order. You can almost hear the mighty timbers of his flagship Queen Anne’s Revenge’s, creaking and cracking as you pour a glass of our complexly sweet, slightly tart Queen Anne’s Revenge red wine. This bold-bodied wine, with a bite at the end, is made with the muscadine grape variety Nobel. The wine shows up only once a year because of the special process used to make it. Grapes are fermented on the skins in outdoor tanks exposed to Mother Nature’s irregular temperatures. Those temperature shifts add to the wine’s complexity.

Scuppernong BlushScuppernong Blush

Scuppernong Blush

Scuppernong Blush is made from scuppernong grapes blended with other late-harvest muscadine grapes. The flavor is sweet with a noticeable mellowness at the end.

Scuppernong Blush is best served chilled. Try it on ice. It is the perfect wine to have with romantic walks on the beach or just sitting around the pool on warm summer nights.

Carolina RedCarolina Red

Carolina Red

Enjoy a burst of flavor on your palate with this sweet red wine that has a clean finish. Carolina Red is made from late-harvest muscadine grapes.

Velvety sweet with a clean finish, Carolina Red was the first sweet red wine Duplin released. It is often compared to Duplin Hatteras Red, but the finish is different due to the varied soils in different vineyards. Hatteras Red has a kick at the end; Carolina Red is smooth.

Goin' CoastalGoin' Coastal

Goin' Coastal

Goin' Coastal sends you a lifetime of beach memories with every sip. The refreshing blend includes white muscadines from North and South Carolina. Duplin winemakers add Pink Catawba and Niagra grapes from the northern United States. Goin' Coastal bursts with hints of citrus and fresh fruit.

Sweet RoséSweet Rosé

Sweet Rosé

Sweet Rosé is incredibly refreshing with a delightfully crisp flavor. This blush enlivens your senses with its vibrant and fruity aroma. Each sip is one to be relished and shared with good company.

Muscadine grapes for this wine are pressed, cool-fermented, cold treated, blended, filtered and tested before the wine is carbonated.

BlackberryBlackberry

Blackberry

Our last wine is made with 100% local blackberries from Kings Mountain, NC. The perfect combination of southern Piedmont soil and climate contributes to the delicious old timey taste of this superb southern fruit wine.

This full-bodied wine is slightly sweet and earthy with a robust finish.

Muscadine Red Pepper & Onion Relish DipMuscadine Red Pepper & Onion Relish Dip

Muscadine Red Pepper & Onion Dip

Our Muscadine Red Pepper & Onion Dip pairs perfectly with our wine tastings. Between wines, eat a few crackers with the dip to help cleanse your palate. This tasty recipe is super easy to make and even better to eat!

To make: soften one 8 oz block of cream cheese and mix ½ a jar of Muscadine Red Pepper & Onion Relish. Use a hand mixer to blend together until the consistency is creamy. Serve with Duplin's Gourmet Crackers.

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