Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"I don't spit."

Proclaimed proudly or with disdain, these words always puzzle me when uttered by an admitted wine geek. Sure, spitting is gross, and seems counter to our instincts. Many people feel that they can't taste wine properly without swallowing it - implying that their nose and palate are located somewhere south of the epiglottis. Some are content with scrutinizing microscopic sips of wine, sacrificing the experience of tasting to save their livers. Others accept the gradual loss of coherence as an unavoidable hazard of tasting.

Spit, folks. Spit. You'll find it's freeing in a way - you get to experience the flavors of many wines in full, taking in a well-sized mouthful to swish around, without the impending doom of intoxication. It is far better to spit a fine wine after enjoying its subtlety and complexity, than to swallow and be unable to distinguish it from Yellow Tail.

I won't go so far as Jancis Robinson's implication that those who don't spit are of inferior moral character,* but I will say that if you don't spit, you're extremely silly, and are shortchanging your wine experience.

A good spit should be accurate, clean, and economical. Ideally you would stand next to the spit bucket, but not need to stick your head in it. Don't dribble. Don't splash. If you can't produce a perfectly clean spit every time, use a cup as a personal spittoon. Spitting from 10 feet away is impressive, but totally unnecessary.

* "...then the taster demonstrates his devotion to duty rather than pleasure by spitting..." - Oxford Companion to Wine.


Anonymous said...

I strongly agree with your stand point.

Even when spitting, we absorb alcohol through the mucosal linings of our mouths and there always are a few drops that stay behind in the mouth. When tasting at a large festival, it's inevitable to catch a buzz even when spitting.

Rajiv said...

Thanks for reading! I definitely start to notice the effects of alcohol after 6-7 wines or ~15 tastes, even while spitting. Stay tuned for a longer rant on the anti-spitting culture in tasting rooms. (If you're on the forums, you might have already seen it).