We always say that tasting is the best way to hone your palate and learn more about wine…but what about those situations where you don’t want to drink too much, have to drive home or attend a trade tasting with dozens or even hundreds of wines?  Well, you probably oughta spit.

There is, however, an art to spitting–which may seem a little unfair, in that in order to sharpen your wine skills you have to develop your spitting skills, too?!

Well, forget about fair and start developing your spitting style.  There are a few “correct” ways to spit;  some say a slow, steady stream, others say fast and furious.  I find that different methods are necessary in different settings.  While I love having a big sip and letting the wine cover every tastebud, rather than swishing it around like mouthwash, most of the time, a half oz taste is all that is safe when it has to be expectorated with precision.

British Wine Critic Jancis Robinson makes it sound downright regal.  Hers, we will call the “Royal Spit”:

“When it makes sense to spit, you should be proud rather than ashamed to do it. You may associate expectoration with rather seedy old men and pavements, but wine people have perfected the art of doing it with great style. ‘Spit with pride’ might well be the wine taster’s motto. The stylish spit is forceful, an elegant trajectory with not the merest suggestion of a dribble, aimed dead center of the spittoon.”

Royal wave optional.

While the goal here is to illuminate the reasons and methods of spitting, it should be noted that some don’t encourage spitting at all.

Teobaldo Cappellano is considered a legend and one of the last great traditionalist winemakers in Barolo. In 1983, he banished all journalists from his cellar unless they agreed to review his wines without scores.  As a result, he is not very well-known in the United States — but is held in very high esteem in the wine world.  In regard to spitting, Cappellano said, “If there is one thing that makes me crazy, it’s spitters of wine…the ones who taste a wine by rolling it around in their mouths and then they spit it out. I worked my butt off to make wine to drink, not to spit!”

I’ve heard that sentiment from many a French winemaker, too, but that philosophy can be trouble without a wooden leg,  I’m just sayin.

For more musings and demonstrations on spitting, check out these links. At least, if you do find yourself in a setting in which you need to spit, you will be prepared to do so with confidence, if not style.

The Fine art of spitting: