I’ve gotten to the point that whenever I taste wine, I automatically spit. But why do people spit out wine?
First, you taste wines that you don’t really like. You can spit these wines out. Second, if you’re tasting lots of wines you want to spit because otherwise you’ll get very, very drunk. Each tasting pour is 2 oz. A regular glass of wine is 4-5 oz. This means that after every 3 wines you’ve tasted, you’ve had the equivalent of a little over 1 glass of wine.
Here’s what you need to know about wine tasting and spitting.
TL;DR: If you are tasting lots of wines, you can’t drink them all, so get comfortable spitting.
Why Do People Spit Out Wine While Tasting?
Tasting wine is different than drinking wine. Professional wine tasting involves breaking down wine into its separate components and analyzing them as a whole: alcohol, aromas/flavors, body, tannin, texture, acid, intensity, and finish.
The industry pros try to tease out each element by taking several sips of a wine and giving it an overall assessment.
Why do wine tasters spit?
Spitting allows the taster to analyze many different wines within a short period of time. In order to do this successfully, you need to stay sober.
Spitting is essential.
Within the industry, wine tasting isn’t limited to fancy competitions for regional or global rankings.
Even before a wine bottle gets to the sales stage, winemakers taste their wines regularly for possible spoilage. They also hold blending sessions to calibrate wine blends before bottling.
And selling wine means tasting wine. Restaurant managers, sommeliers, and bartenders meet with sales reps to taste wines that may complement the food and drinks menu.
Wine shops and liquor store owners will taste wines from brokers and sales reps, too.
There’s a lot of tasting going on in the wine industry. And while it may sound like fun, the work aspect means that you really do need to keep a level head while on the job.
Do you have to spit out your wine?
If you’re out at a tasting room or event, it comes down to personal preference. Spitting is the only way to avoid getting drunk if you’re planning on tasting anything more than a few different wines.
What about the argument that you’re wasting good wine?
One of the laments among wine tasting room hosts is that by the time a group of wine tasters has made it to their tasting room later in the afternoon with several other stops already behind them, the guests aren’t tasting anything.
At that point, it’s just drinking.
Good wine wants to be enjoyed and paired with the right moment, if not contemplated outright.
Like a compass, those who love wine will always find abundantly expressive wines around them. Etiquette supports sipping and spitting.
As for gulping?
Well, the tasting room would rather you spit and/or dump, and then buy a bottle to indulge later.
What do you spit wine into?
Wine tasting rooms and tasting events **usually** have a communal spit bucket available for dumping and spitting wine.
If you’re uncomfortable with that option, you can always bring a paper or plastic cup along as your personal spittoon.
Some larger outdoor community wine tastings may not offer spit buckets. Plan on bringing your own spit cup (I have one).
Worst case scenario you can spit discreetly into shrubbery away from the crowds.
How to Spit Wine
Move the wine you’d like to spit out to the front of your mouth. Lift the spit cup or spit bucket up to your mouth, purse your lips, and spit out with some force.
The tannins in red wine bind to the saliva molecules on your tongue to make your spit especially sticky. Wines that are high also high in acid cause your mouth to make more saliva.
Expect your spit to be thick.
Ahh… Awkward Saliva Strand Moments.
Trying to spit out a mouthful of semi-sticky wine can mean some saliva strands get stuck – to your chin, to the spit cup, to your hand.
No worries. Use a tissue to wipe up and move on.
Just like many things in life, the more practice you get spitting, the more skillful you’ll become.
Thirsty for More?
Check out this list of great questions you can ask while wine tasting.
And here’s what NOT to do while at a wine tasting.