Are You Supposed To Drink The Wine At a Wine Tasting or Spit It Out?

Are You Supposed To Drink The Wine At a Wine Tasting or Spit It Out

When people attend wine tasting events, it is very common to spit out their wine.  Is this a waste of time, or should people follow the crowd and spit out their wine?

For the most part, people should spit out their wine during wine tasting events although the vast majority of people do not.

The reasons for this are to avoid becoming intoxicated and to better appreciate the taste of the wine.

Professional wine tasters and serious amateurs should never swallow wine at such an event since their professional reputations are dependent on them being able to taste throughout an event. With few exceptions people should spit out their wine while wine tasting.

Avoiding Intoxication

Wine tasting events are ultimately considered “classy” events, with certain expected behavior.  Many wine tasting events have dress codes and have various different written and unwritten social rules which need to be followed.  One of these is to stay sober and proper.

Depending on the event, people can be drinking 25-30 different glasses of wine.  The standard wine tasting serving is about half the volume of a normal serving of wine.  For reference, a 180 pound man would have a blood alcohol content above 0.08, after drinking just four normal servings of wine, while a 100 pound woman would have a blood alcohol content above 0.08 after just two normal servings of wine.

This means that someone could be over the legal driving limit of blood alcohol after having only 4-8 tastings of wine in an hour if they do not spit out the wine.  Someone who is not careful can easily become very drunk at a wine tasting event if they do not spit out their wine.

Stumbling around and slurring your speech is not a very good look at a place like this.  On top of this, if you are driving home after a wine tasting, it would not be a good idea to be intoxicated.  Anyone who is swallowing wine at a wine tasting will at the very least need to have a designated driver available.


The purpose behind attending a wine tasting event is obviously to taste wine.  Interestingly enough, spitting out wine is probably the best way to continue enjoying the wine drinking experience.  Becoming too drunk can make it harder to taste wine, as other sensations (euphoria, light headedness, decreased emotional inhibition, etc) can make it more difficult for people to enjoy nuanced tastes.

At this point, drinking wine would become more about the effects of being “buzzed”, instead of sensing the tannins, acidity, sweetness, fruit tones, and other nuanced sensations within the wine. This is part of the reason why drunk people eat “junk” food like pizza, potato chips, etc – the effects of alcohol make people less concerned with mindfully and carefully tasting their foods.

In a more extreme situation, if someone becomes dizzy, nauseous, or blacks out, tasting is not even on the table. Minimizing the distractions of intoxication and focusing on the specific sensory effects of the wine on the tongue will make the wine tasting a much superior experience.


Many people take part in wine tasting professionally.  In addition, there are serious amateur wine tasters who are deeply involved in their hobby, and who have reputations within the community.  For these people, getting drunk at a wine tasting is obviously a horrible idea.

The loss of reputation and general embarrassment that would come from losing control during your job would have serious effects on your career.

And as previously mentioned, getting drunk or even just “buzzed” would prevent them from being able to fully judge the tastes of the wine, which is the entire point of their jobs.  For these people specifically, even the risk of getting drunk at work is something which should not be attempted.

Is it Ever Ok To Swallow Wine?

Are there any situations in which it is okay to swallow wine at a wine tasting event?  This depends on various factors.  If someone is driving home from a wine-tasting, or if someone is professionally tasting wine, it is never a good idea to swallow at a wine tasting.

However, if someone is a visitor to a wine tasting, if the number of wines being tasting is on the low end, if someone has a designated driver, if there is no spittoon available, and if there isn’t too much of a social stigma with swallowing the wine, it may be okay to follow personal preference and swallow wine.

However, this is only under the consideration of extremely specific considerations and should be thought through first.  If someone is swallowing wine and is asked by staff at a wine tasting to spit their wine, it would be good idea to follow the social convention and spit the wine.

How To Spit Wine

Wine Tasting Events will usually have a spit bucket available.  After putting the wine in your mouth, you should spend 7-15 seconds swishing it in the mouth, making sure the wine comes in contact with all of the different surfaces of your mouth and tongue.

After finishing tasting the wine, you should spit out most of the wine.  It may be a good idea to swallow about 5% of the wine in your mouth, just to feel the taste of the wine going down.  You should spit out the wine with enough force to keep it from dribbling down your mouth, although spitting too hard could also be problematic.

Where do you spit?

Most wine tasting events will have a specialized bucket for spitting into.  This is called a spit bucket or a spittoon.  They are made of a metal bucket, with a funnel placed on top.  The funnel often has a cover placed over the hole to prevent bigger objects from falling inside.

Most wine tasting events should have a spittoon available.  However, in the off chance that there isn’t one available, it may be a good idea to bring a small cup with you to spit into, if you do not want to get too intoxicated.

Why Not Spit Out Beer and Liquor?

Many people may have noticed that people do not spit when drinking beer or liquor.  There are very good reasons for this.  With beer, a large amount of the drinking experience comes from the aftertaste that comes from swallowing.  This comes out because of the CO2 bubbles which are contained within beer.

With liquor, there is a similar benefit to swallowing to the tasting process.  Liquor is much, much higher in alcohol content compared to wine and beer.  This can cause a slight burning sensation in the throat.  A big part of the liquor drinking experience is to understand the alcohol level of the liquor by feeling the level of harshness that comes from swallowing the liquor.

Because of these major reasons, beer and liquor tastings typically do not involve spitting.  Because these benefits to swallowing do not exist to the same extent with wine, wine drinkers are more likely to just spit.


Most people should spit wine out during wine tastings.  Swallowing all the wine can cause people to become drunk during their events.  Intoxication may be allowed or even expected in a dive bar or at a club, but wine tastings are classy affairs which do not tolerate overly inebriated visitors.

In addition, the experience of tasting the subtleties of a wine become impaired with intoxication.  The badness of swallowing is even more discouraged for professional wine tasters.  For most people, swallowing wine at a wine tasting is inadvisable.