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Do You Spit When Wine Tasting? Here's How

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[Photograph: jaybergesen on Flickr]

To spit or swallow? That's the question wine lovers struggle with at epic tastings.

More than 225 wineries will pour 700 wines on Sunday at the massive Taste Washington event in Seattle. It would be impossible to sip 'em all. Even if you took one small sip of 50 of your faves, that would add up to a couple of bottles' worth.

I've seen more stumbling drunks at the bitter end of wine tastings than at your typical dive bar.

Seasoned sippers know it's essential to expectorate when tasting a whole bunch of wine. If you swirl your glass, take a sniff, sip, swish, and then spit, you're still going to get a sense of the wine. You taste the wine. It's a wine tasting, after all, not an all-you-can-drink liquid buffet.

But there's a little more to the fine art of spitting than leaning over the dump bucket found on each tasting station table and spit-tooey-ing.

And, ewww, have you ever gotten an up-close view of those dump buckets? Nasty!

Seattle sommelier David LeClaire suggests carrying a separate paper cup for spitting purposes. "You can be very discreet about it," he said last week while showing me how-to at 106 Post, a swank new wine bar near Pike Place Market. "You want to use a bit of force when spitting, so you don't get wine dribbling down your chin. That's not a good thing, especially if you're wearing white."

But don't spit with such force that it splashes back up on you or your buds. Double ewww.

Video: How to Sip and Spit at Wine Tastings

If you go to an event like Taste Washington, you'll get loads of practice spitting. And you won't get so loaded you forget the wines you really liked. Great wines, which you'll want to make note of in the program.

Of course, if you take notes (like the pros do), that means setting down your wine glass and your spit cup. Take care you don't accidentally pick up the spit cup and take a swig! Yes, I've seen it happen in real life. Not just in that cringe-inducing scene in the 2004 movie "Sideways" where Miles helps himself to the dump bucket. Yeah, that's classy.

So, do you think you've got what it takes to be a spitter?

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