A Primer on Spitting Wine

Have you ever wished you could spit wine like the “winery guys” do? When you attempt it, does it end up on the front of your clothes, and do you cough and sputter as a small amount goes down your windpipe? Do you decry this routine as uncouth because you can’t do it?

Be assured there is good reason for spitting your wine. After tasting several, the alcohol takes hold and numbs your tasting abilities, and you begin to ask silly questions of the winemaker. Spitting, and doing it well, is like wearing a badge of experience; it brings you into the wine fraternity.

The best way to learn is to practice with water, preferably when sober so you don’t waste any good wine. Take a somewhat larger than normal gulp of it, gather it in the front of your mouth, tighten and purse your lips (narrow the opening between your lips to an oval), and then expel it, using the tongue as a piston to force the water out, avoiding any drool or dribble on your chin at the end. To avoid any embarrassing ridicule, do this while you are home alone.

In his landmark book, The Taste of Wine (1987), Emile Peynaud said, “Understandably, the art of spitting is treated with a certain amount of circumspection, yet it is a hallmark of the professional taster who can spit in an almost clinical fashion from the edge of his lips, and control the force of the jet according to the distance of the spittoon, all without dribbling.”

The lesson here is that it is really quite simple. And there is no reason to be self-conscious about your technique. Really, no one is interested in watching you spit.

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