Listen to RFI News
Expand Player
 
Listen Download Podcast
  • Paris Live PM 1300 - 1400 GMT
    News bulletin 09/20 13h00 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 1300 - 1400 GMT
    News bulletin 09/19 13h00 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 1300 - 1400 GMT
    News bulletin 09/18 13h00 GMT
  • 13h00 - 14h00 GMT
    News bulletin 04/05 13h00 GMT
  • 13h00 - 14h00 GMT
    News bulletin 04/04 13h00 GMT
  • 13h00 - 14h00 GMT
    News bulletin 04/03 13h00 GMT
To take full advantage of multimedia content, you must have the Flash plugin installed in your browser. To connect, you need to enable cookies in your browser settings. For an optimal navigation, the RFI site is compatible with the following browsers: Internet Explorer 8 and above, Firefox 10 and +, Safari 3+, Chrome 17 and + etc.
France

Spitting it out is in, especially in Paris

media Visitors taste red wine at the Chateau la Dominique in Saint-Emilion, southwestern France. GEORGES GOBET / AFP

Spitting is frowned upon in polite society -- unless the spitter is engaged in tasting wines. "It's by spitting out the wine that you will be even more distinguished in society," says Pierre-Jules Peyrat, a Paris wine specialist.

Holding forth before a rapt crowd at a wine-tasting in the French capital, Peyrat begins by sticking his expert nose into a glass of chilled rosé: it is important to get a good whiff before tasting the wine.

Once in the mouth, the wine is swirled around -- or chewed -- for a few seconds. The taster may then make a "duck face" to allow a bit of air in to detect further characteristics, a step called "grumage".

Next, the mouthful of liquid is spewed back out in an unapologetic burst into a spittoon.

For professionals -- winegrowers, oenologists, sommeliers, wine merchants -- tasting wine means assessing its appearance, or robe, its interaction with the surrounding air, its aromas and finally its taste, as well as its "structure" in the mouth.

The first step is to identify the wine's basic quality: is it bitter, sweet, salty, acid or umami -- that elusive taste between acid and sweet that is much prized in Asia?

The appraisal then turns to the tactile sensation the vintage creates: coarse, astringent, effervescent?

Spitting the wine out is intrinsic to a tasting.

"People think swallowing the wine will give you more aromas, but that's false," says Olivier Thienot, who founded the Ecole du Vin de France in 2003.

"The aromas often come after the spitting," agrees Christophe Marchais, an oenologist from western France near the city of Nantes, acknowledging that the act may seem "a bit bizarre" to the uninitiated.

Some object to the sight of good wine seemingly going to waste; others fear looking boorish or foolish, or staining their clothes.

Spitting, when the wine mixes with air coming from the nose, can bring out "other prevalent aromatic notes", Peyrat says, calling the phenomenon "retro-olfaction".

France, the world's leading wine exporter in terms of value, welcomes around 10 million oenotourists each year -- and their sophistication is growing.

Related
 
Sorry but the period of time connection to the operation is exceeded.