Sometimes, in my Cultural Appreciation of Wine class, at Napa Valley College, Paul Wagner, my instructor, teaches more than just knowledge about wine. Sometimes, we learn something that will make us truly cool and the envy of all of our friends.
And goodness knows, I need all the help I can get being cool and being the envy of all my friends. So I perked up right away.
Spitting, and the ability to do so well, separates the novices from the pros. No, not the way Clint Eastwood spits in “The Outlaw Josey Wales”. (Although he made it look cool.) The way a professional wine taster spits.
Spitting has several purposes and should be done in the right environment. For example, spitting at your boss’s Christmas party, in front of his guests, is probably not the right time nor place to attempt to impress people with your prowess. Better to save your abilities or your next wine judging, while tasting wine in a tasting room, or better yet, while standing in the production area of a winery, after tasting several barrels, you let fly into the nearby drain on the concrete floor. Yep, just like a pro.
You may want to spit to keep from becoming “Three Sheets To The Wind” (see next week’s blog on drunk euphemisms) or you may want to have some endurance, being that you packed 17 stops in wine country, at various wineries. Trust me, palate fatigue sucks.
Some people are afraid to spit because they do it badly. Wine dribbling down one’s chin or completely missing the target and spitting all over the person next to you can be somewhat embarrassing. There are several rules of thumb that if followed, will keep your stream straight and true.
- Do not try and spit a huge mouth full of wine. Keep the taste to one ounce.
- Do not aspirate. Keep air out of the equation. Air will tend to turn a highly focused stream of spit into a fine mist with all the tightness of a shotgun blast.
- Use the muscles in your mouth and cheeks.
- Be forceful. Don’t let the wine dribble. If you do, then you are just drooling.
- Concentrate on a direct and focused stream.
- Purse or pucker your lips to help focus that wine into a tight stream.
The Key is muscle control and force. Too little of either and you will be wearing your wine. Take time to practice in the shower. Of particular help is to have a shower partner that you can either use for target practice of that can give you feedback on your technique.
Just remember that practice makes perfect.
Anthony Blackburn is a student at Napa Valley College in the Viticulture and Winery Technology Department. He is also the Student Sales and Marketing Intern responsible for selling the wines made by the students in the student winery. www.napavalley.edu/winery