If you are serious about learning about wine and discovering delicious wines, you should spit wine when visiting the tasting rooms of the Napa Valley or any other wine country. There is no way you can visit three to five wineries in one day, tasting five or more samples of wine at each winery, and remain sober. You palate will be gone in short order.
Needless to say, if you are the driver, your only choices are to spit or just roam around the tasting room while the others are having a grand old time.
I’m not sure why more wineries don’t encourage visitors to spit wine. We have been to countless wineries over the years and only two showed any indication to visitors that spitting is okay. At one Sierra Foothill winery, a set of spit cups was available with a sign indicating Spit Cups. Another winery in Paso Robles offered a cup to one patron who was spitting into the dump bucket (never a good idea).
Wine professionals do this all the time when evaluating wines, whether at a wine-judging competition or when rating wines for the trade or wine publications. So why not you? Learning to spit takes about five minutes. All you need is a small cup and a small towel or a handkerchief. First of all smell the wine a couple of times. Concentrate on the aromas and make an evaluation of the concentration and different aromas. Take a small swallow and hold the wine in your mouth. Let it sit on your tongue, move it around your mouth, and then spit completely into your spit cup. Finally, breathe out through your nose. Repeat as needed. Practice at home until you feel comfortable. When you spit you will automatically heighten your awareness and become a better wine taster. Go for it!
Maybe wineries don’t encourage the spit cup maneuver because they feel it is uncouth. If done discreetly, it should offend no one. In fact, it may encourage others to do the same. Just maybe wineries don’t encourage spitting because they like their patrons getting a little tipsy. “Why not join our wine club” is more likely to get a positive response at the second or third winery one has visited. I hope that isn’t the case but it would be nice to see wineries take a proactive part in getting patrons to at least consider spitting. Just by having a set of cups available or a sign like “Spitting is Okay” is all it takes. Let’s see which wineries are willing to “take the bull by the horn” and get those spit cups out there for everyone to use. Until then, you’ll need to bring your own cups to the tasting room.