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Wine Spitting – how to do?

“Nasty habit young feller, you born in a barn?” and thus Josey Wales, as played by Clint Eastwood, is chastised for spitting by an old lady in the 1976 revisionist western.

Wales, a Missouri farmer hell bent on revenge for the murder of his wife and son, spends much of the film spitting – he gobs on dogs heads, on his foes corpses and in one scene uses his gobbing skills to ward off a scorpion.

Spitting is indeed a nasty habit, socially unacceptable in most day-to-day walks of life, generally and rightly frowned upon it is only within the context of the wine tasting room that wine spitting, and good spitting at that, is indulged without raising eyebrows.

To the novice wine taster, the act of spitting a mouthful of wine can be a nervy affair, there is an art to it which we’ll come on to but spittle delivery is fraught with danger – splatter down one’s shirt, worst still, splatter down someone else’s.

But even for the seasoned wine taster, spitting is source of nerves and dread of the spittle based fauz pas.

Wine writer Sophie Dening is a seasoned taster and as director of London Wine Session, knows her way around a wine fair but gobbing techniques still perplex… “Cunningly at my own wine festival I have volunteer professional sommeliers who know me and are aware of my imposter status and kindly ignore my fey parabola. Since I started Wine Sessions my projectile confidence has definitely improved.”

So how to spit with confidence? As with all challenges in life it takes practice, experience or, if you’re invited at short notice to a tasting, access to the internet and a quick poke around on You Tube where in the nervous gobber will find plenty of tutorials and words of wisdom…

“Spit tight” “Aim for the wall of the bucket” “Don’t go for the long arc on the first spit” and most importantly “don’t wear a white shirt”.

“It’s like when you’re learning to roll cigarettes” according to Dave Simpson, owner of Market Row Wines in Brixton Village, “Sitting quietly in your bedroom hoping your mum doesn’t walk in, so during quieter moments grab a bucket and start spitting. Eventually you’ll hit the bucket and not someone else’s shoes.”

Basically, everyone gets it wrong, there’s not a novice tasters nor scarlet nosed booze hound that hasn’t ruined a shirt, suffered from splash-back or gobbed in to a decanter of rare wine in error.

As Sophie Dening, still practicing wisely surmises “I hope that, one day, I will spurt nonchalantly and elegantly, with a dignified straight back. Until then I’m basically going for not dribbling.”

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