Spitting is a time-honored tradition among wine tasters. You take the wine in your mouth, swirl it about, then spit most of it into a cup or bucket. The result? You taste the wine without "suffering" any side-effects, like palate fatigue and (ahem) lack of focus.
I was at Eataly, Chicago's new Italian food emporium, in early May for a tasting of wine. The event was sponsored by Planeta, a Sicilian winery that's putting out some exceptional stuff. I had a meeting afterwards, alas, so I really couldn't indulge.
I opted to spit.
I'd never gone the spit-route before. I learned four things:
1. Spitting is not easy. It takes skill to avoid drooling on your chin or shirt.
2. Spitting is gross. It's crude, and if you're spitting into a communal bucket, you could get splashed with other people's spittle. In the face. Disgusted yet?
3. Spitting is only somewhat effective – even when spitting, you're ingesting some wine.
4. Spitting is unnatural. If you have a fine wine in your mouth, you don't want it gone. You want it.
So, at Eataly, about half-way through the wine tasting, I went from spitting to sipping. I would sip about a teaspoon or less…and then swallow.
Sipping and then swallowing a small amount of wine supports most of spitting's advantages – primarily focus without palate fatigue – and none of its disadvantages.
Sipping, instead of spitting, is more pleasant and natural, and, if you sip enough, you'll still be happy enough.
Answer Book 2016
To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2016 Answer Book, please click here.
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