The Toasting Tradition

Wine / Wednesday, January 31st, 2024

Yes, there are interesting things happening in the vineyard.

But I’d like to take a break from that this week to discuss something a little lighter! If that’s ok by you?

I will just briefly mention, that according to last week’s CropWatch report…

The earliest varieties remain at E-L 35 whilst the latest varieties are still hard and green (E-L 33).  The most advanced variety is Pinot Gris which had 40% of berries coloured.

The report did make a point of saying that the rate of colour accumulation appears to be slower than usual.

Now, onto something a bit more… fun!



Whether you’re clinking glasses at a festive celebration or toasting to a special moment, the tradition of saying “cheers” has deep-rooted historical origins that stretch back through the ages.

Let’s have a look at the fascinating history behind this universal gesture and how it’s evolved over time.

Ancient Beginnings

The tradition of toasting and saying “cheers” finds its roots in ancient civilisations.

The Greeks, known for their elaborate banquets and celebrations, would raise their glasses and offer a toast to honour the gods.

The Romans continued this practice, and it became customary to raise a glass in tribute to health, happiness, and prosperity.

During the Middle Ages

As we move into the Middle Ages, the act of toasting became more refined and structured.

The word “toast” itself is believed to have originated from the practice of placing a piece of spiced or charred bread in a drink to enhance its flavour.

This custom was particularly common in England during the 17th century, where the term “toasting” came to describe the act of raising a glass in tribute.

The Royal Influence

The tradition of toasting gained further popularity with the influence of European royalty.

Kings and queens would host grand feasts, and toasts became an essential part of these lavish gatherings.

The clinking of glasses served as a symbolic gesture, sealing agreements, alliances, and friendships. As a mark of respect, guests would drink from the same cup, emphasising unity and goodwill (Bubonic plague anyone?!).

Evolution of the Term “Cheers”

The term “cheers” itself has an interesting linguistic history.

Its origins can be traced back to the Old French word “chiere,” meaning face or expression.

It was used to convey good wishes and expressions of joy during social gatherings. Over time, this term evolved and was incorporated into the toasting tradition, eventually becoming the widely recognised expression we use today.

Globalisation and Modern Usage

With the rise of globalisation and increased cultural exchange, the tradition of saying “cheers” has become a universal gesture.

Regardless of language or location, people around the world raise their glasses and say “cheers” to mark special occasions, celebrate achievements, and express camaraderie.


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The importance of eye contact

And don’t forget that, throughout Europe and Germany in particular, you should always make eye contact with the person who’s glass you are clinking.

According to them, linking glasses and making eye contact is an absolute must whenever two or more people are gathered in the name of alcohol.  Ask them why, and they will give you the answer everybody knows…

If you don’t make eye contact, you are in for seven years of coital misery!

But there may be a logical reason than that!

The most credible explanation is that clinking glasses is an insurance mechanism against being poisoned.

If the person you are drinking with had poisoned your drinks, bumping your glasses together, particularly if done with some force, would mean that the drinks would splash into one another, and your potential murderer would risk killing themselves along with you. 

So why the eye contact? The only way to be sure that the poison had not spilled into his glass would be to watch the glasses as they hit each other. By making eye contact at that moment, the two drinkers assert to one another that there is no reason to look at the glasses, establishing a mutual trust that neither drink is poisoned. 


And let’s not forget that making eye contact is generally considered polite. So, that, in itself, should be reason enough!

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