The Most Toast
April 23, 2011 6:57 PM   Subscribe

Toast Filter: Some members of my family feel it necessary to touch everyone else's glass when toasting at the table - glass-to-glass contact between every dang glass at the table. It can be a bit inconvenient, especially when there more than a few people at the table. Anyone know toast etiquette / history?

OK... I don't really care, long as I have something nice to drink in the glass... and I'd certainly never tell them to do it differently, but it occurred to me tonight when everyone was reaching across the table to try to contact everyone else's glass. "Oh, I didn't clink with Suzie!" "Oh Dave, I missed you!"

Seems to me a simple raise of the glass would be sufficient.

Anyone know anything about this long standing tradition?
posted by ecorrocio to Society & Culture (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Many people seem to feel that the toast only matters if you actually touch glasses. The same way that in some situations when greeting a group of people, you have to shake their hands, every single person's.

My family is like this. I don't really care, and I have had way too many sleeves accidentally dragged through the gravy to be interested in trying to reach very far to hit someone's glass.

I get around it by holding up my glass to the more distant people one by one and saying "Clink!" It seems to satisfy their mysterious requirements.
posted by ErikaB at 7:12 PM on April 23, 2011

In Russia, when a toast is made it is only when in the honor of the dead glases aren't clinked. It is a superstition that not clinking glasses for a happy toast means someone is going to die. Different people would go to different lengths to clink glasses in avoiding bringing on death (dependent on how superstitious and/or traditional they were.)
posted by zizzle at 7:24 PM on April 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

I too hate the "must clink every glass" compulsion. I'd rather raise my glass to the table with a hearty "Prost!" or "Sláinte" then get down to business.

The Russian superstition I have never heard of, but it will make me think twice in the future!
posted by Aquaman at 7:25 PM on April 23, 2011

yeah, i certainly know people who just raise the glass, but if it is a gathering of less than 10, most everyone i know clinks all tbe glasses.

related- i started drinking in a town where shot taking was a clink all together then a slam on the table, then you take the shot. it is an impossible habit to break, but no other place i've drank at does this. lots of awkward, loss of rhythm, shots...
posted by nadawi at 7:36 PM on April 23, 2011

Someone is welcome to correct me, but I believe the custom originated due to fear of poisoning. It wasn't just touching glasses, but pouring liquid from one to another, just in case someone was trying to poison you, they too would imbibe the poison.
posted by annsunny at 7:47 PM on April 23, 2011

I try to avoid actually clinking glasses to the extent that I can. I usually go for a raised glass and an involved head/eyebrow gesture to signal participation in the toast.

If anyone asks, I just say I broke a glass once in college and smile and comradely friendship. Not strictly true, but I also aim to keep it that way.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:49 PM on April 23, 2011

Annsunny's explanation is the same one I've heard with regard to why it's important (or at least traditional) to touch everyone's glass.
posted by heathergirl at 7:52 PM on April 23, 2011

You can fix this by inviting more people. If you can get up to 100 people, that's 4950 clinks. They'd get really thirsty before finishing.
posted by fritley at 7:53 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've heard the reason people touch glasses is because wine has aroma, taste, touch, color, but no sound. Clinking the glass covers the last of the five senses.
posted by and for no one at 8:44 PM on April 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

I don't know the history, or if there is any standard etiquette, but mine is based on the assumption that for some people, they're having fun and being social and making a game of it. They'll happily clink away as much as they can. For others, they clink in case the other person is expecting it. My feeling is that if one or two people are enthusiastically joining the toast yet clearly not clinking everyone, then it makes it clear that clinking is optional and more people will feel freer to not clink if so inclined, or clink if they want - which can only reduce the amount of clinking, usually drastically.

Kind of an inverse version of how it sometimes takes a few clappers to let the crowd know it's ok to clap.
posted by -harlequin- at 9:00 PM on April 23, 2011

A friend told me that she learned in Paris that failure to make eye contact with your drinking companions as you clink results in a bad sex life for a year. True or not, I realized that I had always been focused on navigating my glass through the crowd and not making eye contact. The clinking has been much more enjoyable since I've been paying attention to my companions at the table or bar. Eye contact makes it feel like a handshake without actually touching other people's hands before a meal.

Someone is welcome to correct me, but I believe the custom originated due to fear of poisoning.

I've heard the same thing but this Snopes article disagrees.

related- i started drinking in a town where shot taking was a clink all together then a slam on the table, then you take the shot. it is an impossible habit to break, but no other place i've drank at does this.

Most of my friends do this without the slam but just a tap between the glass and table. I understand it as a way of saying "Here's to the house/host/bar/bartender."
posted by peeedro at 9:40 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think the point of everyone clinking is that it forces the toast to be more than a general 'here's to us!' and more of a personal 'here's to you! and you! and you!' gesture. I agree that it's impractical, but I find that making eye contact with a raised glass is usually more than enough.
posted by twirlypen at 10:36 PM on April 23, 2011

My huasband and I, when at opposite ends of the very long table, raise our glasses to each other and say "clink".
posted by Ideefixe at 11:06 PM on April 23, 2011 Paris... failure to make eye contact with your drinking companions as you clink results in a bad sex life for a year....

Well, I don't know about the bad sex life, but my experience in Paris is indeed that you are expected to clink with everyone, look people in the eye when you clink, and never clink with an empty glass.
posted by Paris Elk at 11:11 PM on April 23, 2011

Germans are into the eye contact during clinking, too, from what I understand. I worked with a guy who would NOT drink until he had a. clinked and b. made eye contact with every single person in the room. This took ages because it was a software engineering team and there were a lot of us who for cultural/autism spectrum reasons would go to real lengths to avoid making eye contact. Honestly, I was one of them, and I hated it when he showed up at our team weekly beer thing, because he'd always give me crap until I met his eyes which I totally hated doing.
posted by troublesome at 12:31 AM on April 24, 2011

I'm living in Austria, and what's true in Paris is true here as well. Everyone must make eye contact. Otherwise, you're being rude (and bad sex for a year). I even know someone who specifically doesn't make eye contact with at least one person because he figures that bad sex for a year is better than no sex for a year. He's kind of odd, though.
posted by sdis at 3:14 AM on April 24, 2011

My Italian friend is very gung-ho about the clinking and the no-eye-contact=bad-sex-for-a-year thing.

Here in Peru no one clinks but every time anyone starts a new drink, or sometimes just randomly before taking any sip, they raise their glass and say "salud." the really polite thing to do is to raise your glass and address each person in the room individually "salud, tia. salud, maria. salud, mario." and they are raise their glass and salud you back. this annoys me in the same way clinking everyone's glass does.
posted by dahliachewswell at 9:33 AM on April 24, 2011

Interestingly, when one toasts to the Queen, one doesn't clink glasses.

My family decided to always toast to the Queen so that we could avoid all the 'making sure everyone is clinked' nonsense. I have brought this tradition with me to the US but it doesn't seem to be catching on.
posted by hydrobatidae at 9:25 AM on April 25, 2011

Update after an evening on a lovely parisian terrasse with friends...

Not only must you clink with everyone, and look them in the eye, and make sure your glass is not empty, but you must also never, ever cross over someone else's arm when you're reaching to clink. Very bad luck, apparently.
posted by Paris Elk at 4:02 AM on April 26, 2011

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