Drink or Spit: What Is The Proper Way To Wine Taste?

Have you seen “Dunkirk”? How about “Battle of the Sexes”? Maybe “It”?

I haven’t. The only films and books in recent memory I’ve encountered are all on the topic of wine. Since I’ve embarked on this blogging journey, with a blog that is zeroed-in on the wine industry, I’ve watched a ton of documentaries and read numerous books about wine.

It’s been fascinating – heck, even the flicks that aren’t all that interesting are made more so with a glass of red in my hand. As I’ve had my fill (but always thirsty for more) of wine-related media, I’ve noticed a recurring theme: everyone is always spitting out their wine during a tasting.

I kept asking myself, Are they crazy (they’re certainly not drunk!); so why are they spitting out that delicate, delicious wine? By the way, these aren’t your run-of-the-mill tastings. For the most part, these are wine tastings serving up the good stuff to sommeliers. Needless to say, all the spittle and drool left me very curious, not to mention a tad grossed out.

The Case to Spit out your Wine

Experienced sippers know it’s essential to spit out their wine when tasting. Why? Typically, these are hardcore wine people who taste a whole bunch of wine in a narrow frame of time. At a typical wine event or weekend foray, an individual may taste dozens and dozens of wines; if swallowing rather than spitting, all that guzzling may amount to an entire caseload of booze.

However, the true enjoyment of wine is to get a sense of it – like a handshake. If you swirl your glass, take a sniff, sip, swish, and then spit, you’ll still get a sense of the wine. The highlights are at the sniffing stage, when you swirl the wine and get a good whiff of the oxygenated liquid gold; and the swish stage, when you suck in air along with the sip, releasing more of the wine’s flavors. At this point, you’re pretty much at “third base,” why go all the way with each sip and be too inebriated to enjoy further wines?

And guess what – despite spitting, you still accumulate alcohol in your bloodstream. The tissues inside the mouth absorb chemical compounds, such as alcohol, faster than the stomach.

Okay, enough with the science of it all. Hopefully now it makes more sense why these people are spitting… they still get a slight buzz off the wine. Plus, they’re also on the job, which can make it tricky to avoid making impaired decisions.

The Case to Swallow your Wine

At the wine tasting, do you pass by the spit bucket, a.k.a “spittoon” (for those fancy pants out there) and cringe? Not for sanitary reasons, but because you just can’t bear to see all that wine go to waste?

For those of us who don’t work in the wine industry and just want to go out and taste, exploring the wonderful varieties that the world of wine offers, you absolutely do not need to spit. Our vote is to do as you wish.

Believe it or not, tasting – and spitting – takes practice! Everyone tastes differently; likewise, it takes a lot of work to train your palate to pick up on the various nuances of wine. Until you get there – simply enjoy! You’re the customer. With your money, you’re helping to promote a greater appreciation of wine.

Be sure to stay hydrated and of course to add further enjoyment of your wine, sip and swallow with well-paired food based on the correct recommendations and you’re fine.

Now say you’re on a weekend-bender bachelorette party (haven’t we all been there?!), make sure you drink a ton of water and dump the remainder of the wine in the spit bucket once you know you’ve had enough. As mentioned in our previous post, that is our personal trick to staying alive for another round the next day.

Cheers and happy wine tasting!

1 thought on “Drink or Spit: What Is The Proper Way To Wine Taste?”

  1. Enjoyed the article. I tend to not spit. Most of the time I will take a tiny swig and then pour it out. I’m not into spitting to begin with, especially in public. My sister and I did have a first time experience awhile back going to a wine tasting with some high end wines and champagnes. We were working for a company and had to taste all these new wines. It was so many and so overwhelming, I should have poured a lot out. Let’s say in this corporate environment, I had to hold it together.

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