I just got the new issue of Winepress Northwest and read Dan's article on wine touring. While most of his advice on touring wine country is very sound, I disagree with one point - SPIT.
Dan and I have judged 150 wines in one day on a professional tasting panel and spitting is de rigueur. No ifs, ands, or buts. The absorption through your oral membranes may put you over the limit, but, we're professionals.
Tasting at a public tasting room is different. First, take Dan's advice and only visit four or five wineries in a day. MAX. Each winery should pour about 5/8 oz. unless they use those ridiculous muhungous Riedel glasses, then to get appropriate color, the winery must pour about 1.5 oz. Regardless, swirl the wine, sip, inhale over the wine, slurp, swish, gargle or whatever, sip again and pour out the rest. Don't spit in public! It is f*cking gross to the staff and your fellow visitors. Your total intake of alcohol for the day, given four wines times five wineries and only sips, not drinking the whole sample, will be no more than ten ounces. Way under your impairment limit for the whole day. (Woodinville might be different where you can see five wineries in five minutes.) Remember Dan, not only do we spit, we never finish a sample!
In order to limit your alcohol intake, in addition to limiting the number of wineries, is to limit yourself to four samples MAX. Sample only wines of interest to you (that day) and ignore the other 15. We have a $5.00 charge at Bonair Winery for our reserve tasting, but if you say, "I'm only tasting Merlot today," I'll bet your sample will be free - if you don't change your mind!
Speaking of wine snobs and spitting, Bonair Winery is not on the Connoisseurs' (remember my definition of Connoisseur and city sewer? Basically the same, they are both full of sh*t.) list for visits, but occasionally we get them. This weekend we had two groups of sewers.
The first tried the Pinot Noir. Really bad, so my wife opened a second bottle. Ugh, a little better, but it tastes like port. Hum, dry Pinot Noir in 100% new French oak tastes like Touriga with 12% residual sugar aged in neutral barrels. I would have laughed them out of the tasting room. The problem here is that most wine tasters in Washington don't know sh*t about non-Bordeaux reds. Please don't impress me with your ignorance. I know Bobby Parker says all wines should taste alike - basically micro-oxygenated Bordeaux reds, but I disagree.
Group two, rattled their glasses vigorously down on the counter around and around then lifted them two feet to their noses and made really stupid comments about the wine, like, "it must be bottle shocked." Swirling your wine on the counter and then raising it to your nose will guarantee that all aromas are blown off by the time you get it up to your snot source. I have never seen a professional wine taster do this (unless they have a Petri glass covering the wine until it reaches the nose.) In professional tastings, the wine is gently swirled near the nose and smelled several times - quietly and unobtrusively.
People who know wine will not make stupid statements. I know because I have poured a lot of wine for people who know wine. They will make intelligent observation, not derogatory comments meant to impress their equally stupid friends, and ask questions. I have even had people question politely that a wine might be corked - by God, these people are usually right. (FYI, we open many bottles on a weekend and since our cork taint is so low, they are not individually evaluated.)
If you don't know sh*t about wine, keep your Butwiper trap shut!
And you wonder why I am grumpy.