How to host Cotton Candy wine tasting at home

There are literally people who come to Duplin tasting rooms every day to sample wines, especially this summer of 2021 when we're celebrating the summer with new Cotton Candy rosé. This delectable sweet wine, with hints of berry and vanilla, is on our tasting sheets this summer. Now, you can do a Cotton Candy tasting at home! 

Our special Cotton Candy wine tasting kit is all about those sweet days of summer. It includes eight summertime favorites, including Cotton Candy. The kit also includes refreshing, bubbly Sweet Lily white wine; citrus-sweet Sangria Red; and our berrylicious Pelican Red Rush Sweetzer wine slushie mix. Plus, there's Duplin Gourmet Muscadine Pineapple Habanero Salsa and a recipe card so that you can whip up the famous cheese dip served in Duplin tasting rooms. We popped in a bag of homemade Duplin Gourmet crackers, too.

Also, find a Cotton Candy Wine Tasting score card you can use to keep notes and rate the wines. If you're hosting a group, fellow tasters may download score cards right onto their mobile devices or you may print out extra copies via the link below.  

If you've already purchased the kit, get your tasting started now 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 Cotton Candy Tasting Sheet included in your kit. Here's how. 

See: First, hold a 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!

Cotton Candy At Home Wine TastingCotton Candy At Home Wine Tasting

Cotton Candy Home Wine Tasting Kit

Cotton Candy At Home Wine Tasting Score CardCotton Candy At Home Wine Tasting Score Card

Cotton Candy Home Wine Tasting Score Card

Now, let's begin our wine tasting!

Carlos wineCarlos wine


Released in 1976, Carlos is one of Duplin’s first wines. Soft, dry and fruity, it might remind you of pinot grigio or unoaked chardonnay. For this wine, Duplin picks Carlos grapes early, before they ripen too much and become sugary. With a 1.5% sugar level, Carlos is one of the driest Duplin wines. Both wine and grape are named after Carlos Williams, a N.C. State University professor who in the mid-1900s was key to developing muscadine grape varieties for winemaking.

Midnight MagnoliaMidnight Magnolia

Midnight Magnolia

Midnight Magnolia is Jonathan Fussell’s personal favorite wine. 

One of our three estate wines, Midnight Magnolia is made from estate grapes that are grown within four miles of our winery.

Close your eyes as you take your first sip and experience the elegant fruity start, then the crisp finish.

Sweet LilySweet Lily

Sweet Lily

Made with the Doreen Muscadine grape, lightly bubbly Sweet Lily is lighter and more refreshing than many sweet wines. Invigorating is a good way to describe this white's lively yet light fruity flavor. Note the fresh, fruity aroma. Drop a few frozen blueberries or blackberries in a glass of Sweet Lily for an extra-special treat.

Pelican RedPelican Red

Pelican Red

Pelican Red combines mid-harvest muscadines with interesting Pink Catawba grapes. Catawbas are a cross between vitis labrusca (the grape family that includes the Niagara in that Brice’s Creek wine you just tried) and the European cultivar Semillon. Native to France, Semillon is a golden, thin-skinned grape used in sweet and dry wines. With just 7% sugar, Pelican Red is mid-sweet with a smooth floral finish.

Goin' CoastalGoin' Coastal

Goin' Coastal

Goin' Coastal sends you a lifetime of beach memories with every sip. This unique blend of white muscadines from North and South Carolina, plus a splash of a northern variety of grapes, is refreshing and crisp. This blush wine bursts with hints of citrus and fresh fruit.

Cotton CandyCotton Candy

Cotton Candy

This is a fun, sweet blush wine, but our master winemakers did not take it lightly. They spent two years testing muscadine grape blends and tasting batches of wine to create Cotton Candy. They balanced just enough sweetness with that elusive cotton candy flavor to make Duplin Cotton Candy taste like wine while evoking the joy of tipping your tongue on fluffy cotton candy.

Sunset RedSunset Red

Sunset Red

There is a large number of Duplin employees who passionately love Sunset Red and claim it as their favorite wine of all time. They joke that the flavor is like a party on your palate. The complex flavor surprises your tongue and causes it to dance!

Made with Duplin’s Estate Coastal James Muscadines, Sunset Red is sweet and balanced but amazes your taste buds with a little bite at the end!

Sangria RedSangria Red

Sangria Red

In 2015, Sangria Red was released and quickly became a fan favorite with its citrusy berry flavor.

Made from a blend of ripened red Muscadines, citrus and strawberry, this wine is wonderful by itself or paired with fresh fruits. On a hot summer day, we like to freeze fruit chunks to drop in our glasses to keep the wine cold and add extra fruit flavor!

Pelican Red Rush Sweetzer MixPelican Red Rush Sweetzer Mix

Pelican Red Rush

This Sweetzer was specially created to celebrate Duplin's partnership with the Myrtle Beach Pelican's MILB team in South Carolina. Mix with Pelican Red wine for a knock-it-out-of-the-park refreshing, frozen treat.

Muscadine Pinepaple Habanero DipMuscadine Pinepaple Habanero Dip

Muscadine Pineapple Habanero Dip

Duplin Gourmet Muscadine Pineapple Habanero Dip pairs perfectly with any Duplin wine tasting. 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!

Recipe: Soften one 8-ounce block of cream cheese and mix in ½ of a jar of Duplin Muscadine Pineapple & Habanero Salsa. Use a hand mixer to blend together until the consistency is creamy. Serve with Duplin Gourmet Crackers.

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