Why Do Wine Tasters Spit? Unlocking the Secrets of Wine Tasting

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You may have observed wine tasters spitting the wine out after a sip, and wondered why they do so. In order to fully appreciate and evaluate the different characteristics of wine, spitting is an essential part of the wine tasting process. Understanding why wine tasters spit can greatly enhance your wine tasting experience and help you appreciate the nuances of different wines.

Key Takeaways:

  • Spitting is a common practice in wine tasting
  • It allows tasters to fully experience and evaluate the wine’s characteristics
  • Spitting helps maintain sobriety and prevent palate fatigue
  • Professional wine tasters rely on spitting to maintain objectivity and accuracy in their evaluations
  • Knowing how to spit effectively and maintaining proper etiquette is important in wine tasting settings

The Wine Tasting Process

When attending a wine tasting event, it’s important to follow proper wine tasting etiquette and understand the wine tasting process. The process typically involves three key steps: examining the wine’s appearance, assessing its aroma, and evaluating its flavor.

Step 1: Visual Examination

Begin by holding the glass up to the light and examining the wine’s color and clarity. Note any variations in hue and intensity, as these can indicate the wine’s age, grape variety, and production method.

Swirling the wine in the glass can also reveal its “legs” or “tears”, which are the streaks that form along the inside of the glass. These can provide clues to the wine’s body and alcohol content.

Step 2: Aroma Assessment

Next, bring the glass to your nose and take a few deep sniffs to identify the wine’s aroma. Try to identify specific notes such as fruit, floral, or spice.

Swirling the wine before smelling it can help to release more of its aroma. It’s important to avoid strong smells, such as perfume or cologne, so as not to interfere with the wine’s aroma.

Step 3: Flavor Evaluation

Take a small sip of the wine and let it linger on your palate for a few seconds before swallowing or spitting. Note the wine’s flavor profile, such as its acidity, sweetness, and tannins.

Swish the wine around your mouth to fully experience its flavors and texture. This can also help to cleanse your palate between tastings.

Using a spittoon during the tasting allows you to fully engage in the flavor evaluation process without becoming intoxicated.

Benefits of Spitting Wine

Spitting wine may seem counterintuitive to the notion of enjoying wine, but it serves a crucial purpose in wine tasting. While spitting is not the most glamorous or refined aspect of wine tasting, it offers several benefits that enhance the overall experience and allow tasters to better evaluate the wines.

Retaining sobriety

The most significant benefit of spitting wine is retaining sobriety. Wine tasting events may involve sampling numerous wines, and consuming even small amounts of each can quickly add up, leading to intoxication. By spitting, you can take a sip of the wine, evaluate its characteristics, and then discard it without ingesting the alcohol.

Preventing palate fatigue

Another benefit of spitting is preventing palate fatigue. Tasting numerous wines can overwhelm the taste buds and make it difficult to distinguish between different flavors and aromas. By spitting, you can sample more wines without overwhelming your senses.

Allowing for evaluation of a larger number of wines

Spitting enables tasters to evaluate a larger number of wines. Without spitting, it would be challenging to fully experience and evaluate each wine while maintaining sobriety and preventing palate fatigue. By utilizing a spittoon, tasters can sample a larger variety of wines and still evaluate them objectively.

Overall, spitting may not be the most glamorous aspect of wine tasting, but it is a necessary and valuable practice. By spitting, you can maintain sobriety, prevent palate fatigue, and evaluate a larger number of wines. So, don’t be afraid to spit during your next wine tasting event!

Enhancing the Sensory Experience

Spitting may seem like an odd practice at a wine tasting event, but it serves a crucial purpose in enhancing the overall sensory experience. By spitting out the wine instead of swallowing it, you can effectively evaluate and appreciate the wine’s aromas and flavors without becoming intoxicated and losing the ability to discern the subtleties of the different varieties.

Additionally, swirling and aerating the wine before spitting can further enhance the sensory experience by releasing more of the wine’s aromas and unlocking its full potential. Taking the time to properly evaluate each wine through spitting and other techniques can also heighten your appreciation for the subtle differences between each variety.

Professional Wine Tasting

Professional wine tasters rely on spitting as an essential technique in their evaluations. In a professional setting, it’s crucial to maintain objectivity and accuracy in assessing the wine’s characteristics, and spitting allows tasters to do so without becoming intoxicated.

Overcoming the Stigma of Spitting

You may feel self-conscious about spitting in public or social settings, but understanding the purpose of spitting can help you overcome any reservations or embarrassment. Remember that wine tasting is a professional and respected practice that requires spitting for its many benefits.

If you are attending a wine tasting event, it is important to follow the proper wine tasting etiquette, including using a spittoon and keeping your spitting controlled and contained. With a little practice, you can become comfortable with the technique of spitting and fully appreciate the sensory experience of wine tasting.

Embrace the practice of spitting and don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek guidance from professionals or experienced wine tasters. You may even find that others are relieved and grateful for your leadership in following proper wine tasting protocol.

Techniques for Spitting Wine

Spitting wine is an essential practice during a wine tasting event, but it can be a bit daunting if you’ve never done it before. Here are some practical tips and techniques to help you master the art of spitting:

Find the Right Spittoon

A good spittoon is crucial for a pleasant wine tasting experience. Look for one with a large opening and a decent capacity to avoid frequent emptying. If you’re unsure of what’s available, ask the host or staff for guidance.

Control the Angle and Force of Your Spit

Make sure you aim for the center of the spittoon to avoid splashing or spillage. Also, practice controlling the angle and force of your spit to prevent wine from flying out of the spittoon or hitting anyone nearby.

Use a Napkin or Tissue

Keep a napkin or tissue handy to wipe your mouth and hands after spitting. This ensures you don’t accidentally touch anyone or leave wine residue on your face or clothing.

Practice Proper Etiquette

Remember to follow wine tasting etiquette when spitting. Don’t slurp the wine loudly, and don’t make faces or noises while spitting. And always use the spittoon provided instead of spitting on the floor or into a glass.

With these techniques, you’ll be spitting like a pro in no time. Don’t be shy about it – spitting is an essential part of the wine tasting process that will help you fully experience and appreciate the wine’s unique characteristics.

The Role of Spittoons in Wine Tasting

Spittoons are an essential tool in wine tasting, allowing tasters to spit out wine after sampling it without creating a mess. They come in different shapes and sizes, but the most common type is a small, bowl-shaped container made of glass or metal. Spittoons are usually placed at every tasting station, and it’s essential to know how to use them properly.

When tasting wine, pour a small amount into your glass, swirl it around to aerate it, and take a small sip. Hold the wine in your mouth for a few seconds to experience its texture and flavor fully. Then, lean over the spittoon and spit the wine out, being mindful of the angle and force of the spit to avoid splashing or spilling.

Types of SpittoonsDescription
Glass BowlsSimple, inexpensive, and easy to clean. Clear glass allows for easy monitoring of wine levels
Metal BucketsSturdy and portable, metal spittoons are often used in outdoor tasting events. They can be emptied and rinsed quickly between tastings.
Built-in SpittoonsSome wine tasting tables have built-in spittoons for added convenience. They are usually located under the table and are easily accessible from the tabletop.

When using a spittoon, it’s crucial to be mindful of wine etiquette. Avoid overfilling the spittoon and ensure that it’s not too full before spitting into it. Also, avoid making loud or distracting noises when using the spittoon, as this can disrupt the tasting experience of others around you.

Alternatives to Spitting

While spitting is the preferred method for wine tasters to maintain sobriety and avoid palate fatigue, some may feel uncomfortable with the idea of spitting in public or social settings. However, alternatives to spitting may not provide the full sensory experience necessary for evaluating wines.

Some tasters may opt to use dump buckets or take smaller sips when tasting multiple wines. However, these methods may not allow for a full evaluation of the wine’s characteristics and can quickly lead to intoxication.

To fully appreciate the nuances of wine, it is recommended to embrace the practice of spitting. With proper technique and etiquette, spitting can prove to be a valuable tool for enhancing the wine tasting experience.

Tips for Retaining Sobriety during Wine Tasting

Attending a wine tasting event can be a fun and educational experience, but it’s important to remember to maintain sobriety. Here are some tips to help you control your alcohol consumption:

  1. Eat beforehand: Make sure to have a meal before the tasting to slow down the absorption of alcohol.
  2. Pace yourself: Take your time and savor each wine. Don’t rush to finish your samples.
  3. Drink water: Hydrate by drinking water in between samples. This will also help cleanse your palate.
  4. Use the spittoon: Spitting out the wine is not only acceptable, but it’s encouraged. It’s a great way to control your alcohol intake and maintain a clear head.

Remember, you want to enjoy the wine tasting experience without the negative effects of alcohol. By following these tips, you can savor each wine while maintaining sobriety.


Now that you know why wine tasters spit, you can fully appreciate the importance of this common practice during wine tastings. Understanding the wine tasting process, the benefits of spitting, and the techniques for enhancing the sensory experience through spitting can help you become a better taster.

Whether you’re a professional wine taster or simply enjoy attending tastings with friends, spitting can help you retain sobriety and avoid palate fatigue, allowing you to fully appreciate the unique characteristics of each wine. Don’t be intimidated by the stigma associated with spitting; instead, embrace it as an essential part of the wine tasting experience.


To fully experience and evaluate the wines you taste, it’s important to follow wine tasting etiquette and use a spittoon. If you’re unsure how to effectively spit, use the tips and techniques provided in this article to help you master the skill. And if you’re concerned about maintaining sobriety during a tasting, be sure to pace yourself, eat beforehand, and drink water to stay hydrated.

So the next time you attend a wine tasting event, don’t be afraid to spit. By doing so, you’ll enhance your tasting experience and gain a deeper appreciation for the complex and nuanced world of wine.


Q: Why do wine tasters spit?

A: Wine tasters spit during tastings to enhance the overall experience by maintaining sobriety, preventing palate fatigue, and sampling a larger number of wines. Spitting allows tasters to fully evaluate the aromas and flavors without becoming intoxicated.

Q: What is the wine tasting process?

A: The wine tasting process involves visual examination, aroma assessment, and flavor evaluation. Tasters observe the wine’s color and clarity, sniff the aromas to identify different scents, and taste the wine to assess its flavors and structure.

Q: What are the benefits of spitting wine?

A: Spitting wine during a tasting helps tasters retain sobriety and prevent palate fatigue. It allows for sampling a larger number of wines without becoming intoxicated, enabling a more thorough evaluation of the wine’s characteristics.

Q: How does spitting enhance the sensory experience?

A: By spitting, tasters can fully experience and evaluate the wine’s aromas and flavors. Spitting allows tasters to engage their senses without overwhelming their palate, and following specific rituals and techniques can further enhance the sensory experience.

Q: How is spitting used in professional wine tasting?

A: Professional wine tasters rely on spitting to maintain objectivity and accuracy in their evaluations. Spitting allows them to taste a variety of wines without becoming intoxicated, ensuring their assessments are not influenced by alcohol consumption.

Q: How can I overcome the stigma of spitting in wine tasting?

A: Understanding the purpose of spitting in wine tasting can help overcome any reservations or embarrassment. Recognizing that spitting is a common and important practice can make it easier to embrace in public or social settings.

Q: What are some techniques for spitting wine?

A: To effectively spit wine, it’s important to use a spittoon and control the angle and force of the spit. Practicing good etiquette while spitting is also crucial. Aim for the spittoon and avoid generating excessive noise or splashing.

Q: What is the role of spittoons in wine tasting?

A: Spittoons are used in wine tasting to provide a designated receptacle for spitting. They help maintain cleanliness and hygiene during a tasting event. A variety of spittoon styles are available, ranging from individual cups to large communal containers.

Q: Are there alternatives to spitting in wine tasting?

A: While alternatives like dump buckets or smaller sips exist, they may not be as effective in fully experiencing the wine’s characteristics. Spitting allows tasters to evaluate the wine’s aromas and flavors more comprehensively.

Q: How can I retain sobriety during wine tasting?

A: To retain sobriety during wine tasting, it’s important to eat beforehand, pace oneself, drink water, and use spitting as a way to control alcohol consumption. These tips can help maintain a clear and objective judgment while enjoying the tasting experience.

Note: Section 11 (Conclusion) is excluded from the FAQ list as it contains a summary of the article.

Author: Edna Powell

Edna Powell - the owner and founder of Grapes&Wines

Hey there, I’m Edna Powell, a full-time adventurer in the world of wines, part-time storyteller, and all-the-time enthusiast! When I’m not swirling a glass of Cabernet or navigating the sun-soaked slopes of a vineyard, you can find me here, pouring my wine-ventures onto these digital pages. The mission? To uncork the rich tales and the fascinating science behind every bottle. So buckle up, sip up, and let’s dive into another wine-soaked adventure together!

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