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Dear Dr. Vinny,
Will swallowing or spitting yield the same wine tasting impression? How can you calculate finish length if the wine never touches the back of your tongue and throat?
—Juan M., San Jose, Costa Rica
While there are some taste buds in the back of your throat, they aren't crucial for the evaluation of the finish. A wine's flavors will ricochet around your retronasal passages whether or not you swallow the wine. I'm an experienced spitter, and I find that in some situations, it's actually easier for me to evaluate a wine when I don't swallow it. It's just a matter of training and experience.
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