This mini wine tasting is perfect for date nights

Used to be everyone wanted to go out for date nights. Now, we understand the joy of celebrating our love at home. Whether your dinner involves a heart-shaped pizza delivered, an entire box of chocolates or something you cook together, a wine tasting is a sweet way to start.

This mini wine tasting is also the perfect any-day gift. Six bottles include Duplin fan favorites Black River Red and Cotton Candy Original. Duplin Gourmet homemade crackers, Muscadine Pineapple Habenero Salsa and a recipe for the famous cheese dip we serve in Duplin Winery tasting rooms means you don't have to fuss over appetizers before dinner.

Meet the bartenders  

If you still need to purchase the Mini Tasting Kit, do it now. If you have the kit, use the wine tasting scorecard that's included. Print extra copies for guests or share the QR code on the scorecard so they can download their own. Then just follow along with the video above as Duplin bartenders guide 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 grapes used and what the wine will taste like. Is it Scuppernong? Nobel? Carlos? Another? Color also indicates flavor. A bright, saturated hue often means a 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 to cling or move slowly. That means a heavier body.

Sniff: After you swirl, really dip your nose into the glass and inhale the aroma, which 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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Mini Tasting KitMini Tasting Kit

Mini Wine Tasting Kit

Mini Wine Tasting SheetMini Wine Tasting Sheet

Mini Wine Tasting Sheet



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.

Sweet WineSweet Wine


Fresh and lively, Duplin Sweet is such an easy sipper. If you like Moscato wines, you’ll adore this white muscadine wine from the oldest winery in North Carolina. It’s like Moscato without the bubbles.

Duplin introduced Sweet in 2012, and it’s been a fan favorite ever since. With a light 11% sugar level, Sweet is fantastic when chilled on its own or blended into cocktails. Try it with pineapple juice and a splash of sparkling water for a different take on a mimosa. The makes a delectable white sangria with fresh strawberries and a few basil leaves. 

Pelican RedPelican Red

Pelican Red

Pelican Red combines mid-harvest muscadines with Pink Catawba grapes. Catawbas are a cross between Vitis Labrusca and the European cultivar Semillon. Native to France, Semillon is a golden, thin-skinned grape used in sweet and dry wines. Historians aren’t sure who first crossed these two grapes, but early vines were said to have grown on a so-called “Rose Hill property” in Maryland.

With just 7% sugar, Pelican Red is mid-sweet with a smooth floral finish.

Black River RedBlack River Red

Black River Red

This sweet and mellow red is made with a sweet blend of late harvest Muscadines. Released in 2007, this quickly became a favorite wine for many Duplin lovers. The taste is smooth and has less of an alcohol kick, much like an adult version of grape juice.

Black River Red was named after the Black River, which begins in North Carolina's Sampson County, then flows through Bladen County to Wilmington.

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.

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