Santa Rosa, Calif. It takes a swirl, a smell and a sip to size up a wine. Oh, and one other thing. A good, hearty spit.
"It is extremely important to spit if you're doing any amount of wine tasting. You learn that lesson very quickly," says Leslie Sbrocco, author of "Wine for Women," and a frequent judge at tastings.
Every taster has to spit if only to keep the palate as clear as possible for evaluating multiple wines.
But for women, it's particularly important because they are more quickly affected by alcohol because of metabolic differences, as well as usually weighing less than male judges.
A seasoned judge is the spitting image of success.
"Some people have an incredible streamlined spit that can go 5 feet," says Wilfred Wong, cellar master for Beverages & More. Still, "the bottom line is so long as you don't drool on yourself, you're fine."
In competitions, as at tasting rooms, organizers thoughtfully provide a bucket. (Viewers of the movie "Sideways" will recall Miles' chug-a-lug example of what not to do with the bucket.)
Sbrocco, who teaches expert expectoration in her wine classes, recalls going around a cellar with a German winemaker a few years back, tasting dozens of wines early in the morning.
"I looked at my spit bucket and it was completely full, and I looked at his spit bucket and it was completely empty," she recalls. "Aren't you spitting?" she asked.
"He said, 'Oh yes I am, my dear, I'm just spitting backward.'"