Spitting and driving

Tomorrow I have a quick tasting to go to and usually I will try and take public transport, however the venue is t very central and I also have the school run to do so I’ll be driving .
At tastings I ALWAYS spit, as I like to have my wits about me to make proper tasting notes.
So, my question is, even though I won’t be consuming any alcohol, if I was breathalysed, would the fact there was alcohol in my mouth as opposed to deep lung affect the test ?
Or does the test just take deep lung readings into account ?


I read somewhere that you absorb a certain percentage of the alcohol through your mouth and inhalation. Pretty certain the suggestion was c. 5 to 10%!

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As far as i know, any alcohol in the mouth could trigger a positive roadside breath test (e.g. some mouthwashes) wherever its come from, but the subsequent blood test would likely prove negative. But a trip to the station nonetheless.

The bigger issue may be alcohol absorbed into the blood stream through the gums. Would depend on the number of wines tasted and how long they’re held in the mouth?


And I think would vary quite a lot from person to person so altogether not much encouragement to offer.

Oh dear ……. :see_no_evil:!
However …… the wine is never in the mouth very long …. BUT…… there is on occasion in excess of 50 wines . Tomorrow isn’t much though … possibly only 20-30 .

Five years ago, I wrote this piece about alcohol absorption into the body when tasting and spitting. I could find very little hard evidence, but there was one “scientific” article I found


Stay safe, get a taxi! Is a wine tasting worth a driving ban?


I’m guessing, more likely the tongue - a GTN spray (heart medication) is to the underside of the tongue and the effects are almost immediate.

20 to 30 wines? I’d definitely opt for a taxi for the tasting & the school run. Enjoy the wines without the worry!


I suspect it is neither the gums nor the tongue specifically that absorb alcohol and GTN, but the oral mucosa generally. I haven’t gone back to check, but maybe in what I wrote I was misusing the word “gums”.

One of the reasons for taking pills and sprays sub-lingually must be that it is a good way to keep the substance in contact with a large area of the mucosa for a long time - without having it swallowed.

Swilling wine round the mouth, as we are sometimes advised to do when tasting, must also be a good way of absorbing substances into the blood stream

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I think it is time to draw on your social capital with the other parents, and get someone else to do the school run. After all, if you can’t call in a favour in order to do some wine tasting, what’s the point of being friends with the other parents?


Who said I was friends with the other parents ? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::crazy_face:


Good article Steve, many thanks :pray:

I thought this was a thread about Jamie Carragher.


I’m quite sensitive to the first alcohol rush (i.e. that sensation on the first glass of an evening). When I was doing exams even though I was very careful to avoid swallowing I’m sure I got that sensation - so my view would be always to take the taxi option.


Thanks Steve. This is a subject I have often wondered about but never got around to researching. I’m quite surprised that there isn’t more research done tbh.

The paper raises a question in my mind that I’d never even considered and maybe they didn’t either - when rinsing mouth with water do you spit that too? If you are trying to minimise alcohol absorption presumably one shouldn’t swallow the water either.

I suppose so. TBH, I hardly ever rinse with water immediately after tasting so I have never really thought about it.

After reading that article I did though start “double-spitting” for a period - once to shoot out most of the wine, and again with mostly saliva. Sorry, I know it sounds disgusting but I tried to be as discrete as possible about it.

The more I think about it, the more contrived and divorced from real life this tasting malarky sounds. But what is the alternative if you want to try many wines?


I rarely drive so perhaps a bit off-topic and doesn’t answer the OP, but I’m trying a sort of hybrid/mitigation technique, ie taking enough to swirl around the mouth, and then spitting out most and swallowing a little to still get that part of the experience. But an interesting article, so thanks for that :slight_smile:

Late arrival to this thread but that is a really useful article, thank you!