Toasting, huh, what is it good for? Absolutely everything

people toasting wine

Toasting is an integral part of wine tasting.

Much like wine tasting is an integral part of Chief Wine Officer (CWO) events.

If you’ve ever attended a CWO event, you already know there’s plenty of education about wine. So let’s use this blog for education about toasting wine. Sit back, perhaps with a glass of something palate-pleasing, and sample the words that pour out below.

Where it all began

There’s a rich and full-bodied variety of theories regarding toasting’s origins.

One of the first toasting-related references is found in the Odyssey, written around 500–700 BC. That’s where Ulyssess toasted to the health of Achilles.

Some say toasting really took off during the Middle Ages, at a time when many people had a habit of poisoning their enemies. By clinking, wine would supposedly splash into opposing goblets, showing drinkers the wine was safe to drink.

Others believe toasting relates to when oenophiles would drop a piece of toast into their wine, thus improving the taste. One of the earliest recorded instances is in Shakespeare’s ‘Merry Wives of Windsor’, where Falstaff requests ‘a quart’ of wine and to ‘put a toast in’t’.

There’s also a supernatural theory. Phantom-fearing folks of yesteryear believed clinking glasses would ward off evil spirits (the ghostly type, rather than the cheap stuff that gives you hangovers).

Rise of the Toastmaster

Whatever the origins, by the 18th century toasting was a firm fixture in most countries’ drinking cultures. People’s enthusiasm, and subsequent drunkenness, led to the rise of the Toastmaster. This was a de facto referee, ensuring that all drinkers present would be toasted in an orderly manner. At CWO events a similar role, admittedly more about hosting than toasting, is always performed by a wine expert or Master of Wine.

Toasting etiquette

The hashtag #wewantplates may celebrate (or commiserate, depending on your point of view) the trend of serving food in anything other than plates.

A recent high-profile example was at a dinner between the Israeli and Japanese Prime Ministers, where dessert was served in a shoe. Nothing wrong with that – at the start of the 20th Century drinking champagne from a woman’s slipper suddenly became a viral trend. This was seen as a fashionably decadent way of toasting a woman’s appearance or performance.

However, if you’re one of those strange people who prefer drinking wine from a glass, there are a couple of things worth bearing in mind when toasting. Avoid clinking the rim of the glass – particularly if it’s crystal – that’s the weak point.

Instead, limit your clinking to the middle of the glass. Not only is it safer, it also means your clink will be more sonorous. Unless your glass is over one-third full. If that’s the case, it’s your duty to empty the glass until it reaches the optimum sound level.

Toasting in different languages

CWO events take place across the world. So here’s a handy list of translated ‘cheers’, so you can toast at CWO events in:

  • Afrikaans: Gesondheid
  • Czech: Nazdravi
  • Dutch: Proost
  • Finnish: Kippis
  • French: Santé
  • German: Prost
  • Italian: Salute
  • Romanian: Noroc
  • Spanish: Salud
  • Thai: Chok dee