Should You Spit or Should You Swallow?

15th July 2020

Champagne tasting events london

When it comes to the fine art of tasting a Glass of Bubbly, how do you do it? The answer – however you like! There is no right or wrong way, that’s the beauty of it, if that answer is all you are looking for, then thank you for reading, but if you would like to know the benefits of each and find out which you will adopt as your tasting method, please, keep on reading.

I think it’s safe to say that swallowing is the most used method when tasting a Glass of Bubbly, but that is counting, of course, the millions of people that enjoy their bottles at home with family, with friends at parties and out at restaurants.

At a tasting event you are met with a common choice, spit or swallow, you will see people doing both, but does it make you look more professional if you spit? are you insulting the winery if you do? where did I put my glass?

It is a personal preference on which you go for, many wine professionals will go by this, as there are normally dozens if not 100s of wines to taste you simply cannot swallow a sip from every bottle, so you are going to have to spit, that’s if you are going to taste them all, some people will just taste certain wines from certain countries, region or grapes, as this is the area they focus on, like us, our expertise lies in Sparkling Wine.

If you have 100s of bottles to taste, then you will have to spit out everything, but if you don’t have a wine filled swimming pool to swim, then I would recommend spitting out approximately 80% of your sip and swallowing the remaining 20%, this will reduce the amount of alcohol you consume and allow you to experience more before feeling tipsy.

Tipsy Tip – When you start to feel tipsy, stop for a moment, have a glass of water and eat something, whether it’s a rather plain snack bar or usually a cracker or two you can find on the wine stands, if you don’t want to look weird just standing there looking at a wall while you wait to feel better, maybe put out an Instagram post or Tweet out what bottle you are currently enjoying, wineries will always appreciate a mention on social media, be sure to tag them in if you can.

Am I insulting the winery if I spit at a tasting event? – No, at any tasting event, they know that you will have more wines to taste, so it’s expected, but also don’t feel pressured to spit.

Am I insulting the winery if I spit at their wine estate? – No, if you’ve come in as a guest and have paid to experience a unique tasting experience, then you might raise a few eyebrows, especially if you only have 5 wines to taste, but as a journalist coming in to review wines, take pictures, film videos and share out on social media, then it makes sense, you need to keep a level head when doing this.

It always feels like one of the worst things you can do, spitting out sparkling wine when enjoying it with the winemaker in their cellars or vineyards, it can feel like you are insulting their profession and their creation, but as long as you can appreciate the wine and give your opinion on it, then you don’t need to worry.

Do I look more professional if I spit? – It won’t make you look unprofessional, it’s kind of a hard question to answer, I’ve manned a couple of stands and I’ve never looked at the people who spit as more professional than the ones that don’t, I just saw the fact that they are going to have a lot of wines to taste and they want to make sure each one gets a fair shot at their taste buds.

Should I spit close by or try and trick shot it? – It might seem cool to you if you can spit into a bucket from 5 feet away, but it will only look cool to you, also the higher up you spit, the bigger the splash, and I don’t really need to mention how unpleasant it would be if you’re standing or passing by the splash zone, also try to avoid having conversations next to spittoons.

What happens if I accidentally spit on someone? – I can’t say I’ve made this mistake myself, but just like any mistake we make, apologise, maybe offer them a napkin, you’ll feel embarrassed, but you never know, you might end up striking up an interesting conversation with them.

Should I spit when pairing wine with food? – Unless you are choking or the food is revolting, absolutely not, full stop.

What if the Sparkling Wine is really good, do I still spit? – Sometimes you will stumble across a wine or Sparkling Wine that takes you under its spell, just like a first kiss, when this happens, by all means, swallow, hey, finish the whole glass, even ask where you can buy a bottle, try and remember the bottles that give you a breathtaking experience.

Swallowing a wine can sometimes be seen by the winemaker or representative as ‘you really like this wine’ but this is more noticeable in a private tasting where you have been spitting out all their other wines.

Do I at any time need to spit at a restaurant? – No, when you have ordered a bottle of wine of Sparkling Wine in a fine restaurant, the waiter will pour the you a small glass to test, this is to make sure that the bottle is not corked, if the bottle is fine, then swallow the sip you took, if it is corked, I would recommend that you either still swallow, as a corked wine is still safe to drink, or spit the wine back into your glass, as you can imagine, when eating at a restaurant, it won’t be a pleasant sight if you look over and see a guy spitting out his wine, might put you off your meal, so bear this in mind when making your decision.

Normally when you taste wine in a restaurant it is to enjoy, on its own or with your food, so spitting is not really required.

What if I can’t find anything to spit into? – This is a tricky situation to be in if you are planning to spit at an event or winery visit, a good tip is to locate a spittoon nearby, one should do, but if you spot another one as well, just keep its location in the back of your mind in case the other one has been taken to be emptied otherwise you either have to take the sip on this one and swallow, or depending on if you’re tasting inside or outside, inside is much harder, you can just spit back into your glass, then find a new one.

If there are no spittoons around, the wine is most likely meant to be enjoyed rather than spat back out.

Sometimes there are upwards of 20 bottles at one tasting event and sometimes you’ll have 2 or 3 to go to in one day, so by the time you arrive at your second tasting event, you might be stumbling through the door with your pants around your ankles, and I don’t think I have to tell you, that’s not very professional.

Spitting allows you to experience more wines at a faster rate, but there is the question of whether you are truly experiencing all the wine has to offer.

Seeing someone spit out their wine, which they swirled, swished and gargled, can be an unpleasant sight, just make sure not to make eye contact with someone who is spitting or while you are spitting, you don’t need to add to the awkwardness of the situation.


Oliver Walkey

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.