Wedding, birthday, congrats, parties, reunions: there are so many opportunities to drink and clink glasses! But why do we clink glasses? What are the origins of this sacred tradition? And how do we toast in French? My Winedays expert team comes again to get this all clear for you!
The tradition of clink glasses and drink to the health of another person dates back to the Middle Ages! At that time, in order to ascertain the good intentions of your neighbor, poisoning the drinks of your drinking buddy was commonplace. To defeat such tricks and make sure that your beverage was safe to drink, you poured some of your wine in the other one’s glass before drinking anything. If one glass was poisoned, both would die. But thereafter, we simply bumped the glasses to exchange liquid by splashing.
Even today, it is still said that one should not start drinking until one has toasted. Looking each other in the eye while toasting is also considered as a sign of confidence and is now a common tradition.
A little advice: if your “enemy” took his eyes off of your stare and look at his glass to check if no splash enter his drinks, maybe you should better not drink yours or neither trust this dishonest person.
Thankfully, it is not as common as it used to be. You should be able to drink your glass in peace.
Still, we are never 100% sure, aren’t we…?
Then why don’t you come on one of My Winedays Wine day trip to check if we are trustable people? 🤔
During this tour you will have plenty of opportunities to clink your glass, cheers and check your neighbor’s trustiness. Champagne region, Paris, Loire Valley, Normandy: come and check yourself which French people are the most trustable.
On the other hand, it also would appear that clinking glasses has absolutely nothing to do with poison! Indeed, in order to make you drinks splash, you should fill your glasses up to the brim. This means take the risk of wasting some of the delicious and precious beverage on the floor. Which is not really an option!
Then what is the real purpose of clinking glasses?
We do not have any 100% exact answer, but some says that it is all about pleasure. 🤗 Let me explain that!
Drinking involves only 4 of the 5 senses: we do taste, smell and look at wine, that’s for sure. But we also “touch” it while we hold our glass and make it slowly swing. Then the sense of hearing is the only left aside sense. It is said that, this is the exact reason why we started to clink glasses!
Adding this soft, crystal-clear and perfect little sound to the celebration makes all the 5 senses gather. It is a beautiful way to enlighten the idea that wine is all about sharing. Making noise clinking glasses is kind of a physical connection, a proof of belonging to a group.
We owe the expression “To give a toast” to French! (Yes…them…again)
In ancient French, the verb “toster” means “roast” or “grill”. In the 11th century, French people used to eat a slice of spicy toasted bread accompanied with a glass of wine. It was usual to wet your bread by pouring your glass of wine over it. Then we called it a “tostée”.
Overseas, in the 12th century, English people appropriate this custom and turned it to “toast”. They made a festive and popular tradition of it: We put a slice of spicy toasted bread in a glass of wine and make a round around the table so each customer could take a sip of it. Then the last one was honored to empty the glass and gladly enjoy the wet slice of bread.
(Curiously enough, sounds weird but delicious at the same time…)
Beware, in France we don’t mess with tradition, and give a toast is a pretty serious one!
First of all, whatever it is – wine, juice or else – we always clink glasses when there is something to celebrate, as simple as it can be. Above all, give a toast is a gesture of happiness! It is the opportunity to celebrate with your loved ones and to take the mood up.
Then, we have to wait for each guest to be served before anything.
Here starts kind of a weird dance – controlled more or less – between the several glasses and arms holding them. Be careful, there is some important rules you’d better follow right!
Rule 1: Of course, as we said, do not forget to look your clinking partner in the eye 😉
Rule 2: Never, I said NEVER, cross another clinking! If you dare to cross your arm with your neighbor’s one, it can turn to some big deal. It says that you will be punished by 7 years of misery!
Harsh? You’d better be careful then, right?
How can we stay silent during such a celebration?
French people never miss a chance to say a “Santé!” out loud, which means “health”. Because health always comes first. To make it a bit more friendly, we will say “Tchin!” just to symbolize the lovely clinking sound of the meeting of our glasses.
Want to “Tchin!” with us? Check out My Winedays daytrips from Paris and join a tour!
There is always a good reason to celebrate, rise our glasses up and clink!