The Art of Spitting

If you go to a lot of wine tastings, it’s easy to forget just how strange the whole spitting thing is. The act of spitting is universally considered socially unacceptable in crowded places, but he we are, all standing in a busy room, spitting into buckets. Tall, shapely, metal buckets, but buckets nonetheless. It’s particularly incongruous at the more upmarket tastings, where gentleman in suits courteously wave elegantly dressed ladies in front of them so they can shoot first.

At least spitting is a controlled form of socially unacceptable behaviour, and one that is tacitly permitted for the duration of the event. The alternative, getting riotously pissed, is a Pandora’s Box of potential indignities. It you’re going to taste your way through more than a couple dozen wines – it’s one or the other. I went to the London Wine Trade Fair, an enormous event in Excel in Docklands, with a young German intern a few years ago. She was too embarrassed to spit. After an hour or so she ended up bursting into sustained uncontrollable laughter then falling over. She got off pretty lightly considering; each year at the end of the fair you spot a couple of casualties in a much more grievous condition.

I tend to only spit during the day, if I’m driving or if I want to taste a large number of different wines. If I’m out having fun, I don’t bother. If you’re a newcomer to the art, here are some pointers:

  1. Practice at home with water first.
  2. Put your head directly over the spittoon. You have to be very skilful to spit from an angle or a distance (I suspect I’m not the only one that finds this secretly quite impressive…)
  3. Don’t dribble. Spit. A vertical dart is easier to direct than a horizontal shower.
  4. Don’t wear anything expensive or white.
  5. No loud hacking beforehand. White or red spit is acceptable. Green is not.

If you’ve got any to add to the list, use the comment box below…