You’ve probably read it in wine books, or perhaps even in this blog: When visiting a winery tasting room, it’s a good idea to spit out each sip of wine after sloshing it around your mouth to taste it.
I’ve recommended this procedure for years, primarily as a way to avoid excessive drinking and becoming an unsafe driver along the highways and byways of wine country. And I stand by that suggestion.
Think about it: If you were to visit a winery that has a dozen wines available to taste and offers a 2-oz. taste of each wine, you could be “over the limit” by the end of the tasting, depending on your body size.
That said, that are other ways to avoid the “less-glamorous” side of wine tasting, to stay safe on the road, and to avoid that morning-after hangover.
First, don’t feel as if you must finish the entire sample poured into your wine glass. All you’re really trying to learn is what the wine smells like, tastes like and — if you like it — is worth purchasing. That can be accomplished by placing your nose deep into the glass, breathing in deeply, and then taking a small sip of the wine.
The aroma of a wine reveals almost everything about its flavor, once you’ve learned how to pay attention to the differences from wine to wine. A blackberry aroma will equate with a blackberry flavor. A cherry aroma leads to a cherry-like flavor.
Thus, once you’ve trained your nose, your palate won’t need to do as much work, and that means you won’t need to taste as much wine. Using this method, tasting the wine will be more about how it feels in the mouth, and the sensation you experience as it goes down your throat.
Another way to eliminate the need for spitting is to drink lots of water during the wine tasting. While water won’t “dilute” the amount of alcohol you’re ingesting, it will keep you hydrated, which is important because a prime cause of hangovers is dehydration.
I still spit when I taste because it’s my preference to enjoy wine with a meal, or as an aperitif before a meal. I like to savor the nuances of a given wine, rather than going from one wine to another or back and forth among multiple wines. For me, visiting a winery’s tasting room is about tasting, not drinking.
So, if you feel like using the spit buckets that most tasting rooms provide, feel free. If you’re self-conscious about spitting in front of others, cut back on the amount of wine you ingest and drink a whole lot of water.
We want you not only to enjoy wine, but also to avoid the day-after hangover.