Should You Always Spit Out The Wine At A Wine Tasting?

If you've ever been in a popular winery tasting room near closing time, you've probably seen examples of what not to do at a tasting. Tipsy tourists (who may or may not have a designated driver) clamor for just one more free pour while the volume in the room goes up. Of course, it's supposed to be fun to visit a winery or attend a tasting, but there are good reasons for restraint.

Wine tastings exist for a few reasons — they're hands-down the best way to learn more about a wine, a region, and a winery, as well as allowing you to discover what you like by expanding your palate. But if you're on vacation and visiting several wineries in a single day, or if you're attending an event like Wine Spectator's Grand Tour, which features more than 200 wines, you simply have to pace yourself and limit your consumption, lest you end up embarrassing yourself or others. One of the best practices is to spit the wine out after you've tasted and evaluated it, giving you the chance to experience that Oregon Pinot Noir without getting drunk. But do you always have to spit?

Sometimes it's perfectly fine not to spit out wine at a tasting

Perhaps you've hired a driver or designated one member of your party to keep their consumption at a safe level, but there are good reasons to either spit out wine as you taste or limit the number of samples you enjoy. The first, of course, is to avoid getting too intoxicated. If you're tasting a lot of wine, spitting is the best plan. For those of you who worry that you'll make a mess, it may sound silly, but it's a good idea to practice neatly spitting at home before you embark on your wine journey. 

Even if you're under the legal limit, tasting too many wines can result in palate fatigue, meaning that all the wines start to taste alike. A short break will give your palate a rest, which is another good reason for spitting at least some of the wines at a tasting.

But do you absolutely have to spit? Of course not. Deciding whether you're going to spit wine at a tasting doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing choice, and it's not a faux pas to enjoy the occasional swallow. The most seasoned wine professional will refrain from spitting wines that are exceptionally good or exceedingly rare. If one of the wines you happen to have in front of you is a collector's dream, like Screaming Eagle, feel free to sip, savor, and swallow it, enjoying every ounce you're lucky enough to taste. You may, however, wish to spit some of the other wines in your lineup.