A ‘Toast’ – What is it?

A successful harvest, a gold medal vintage, a sports victory, a wedding, a special birthday, a successful business venture or New Years Eve: if the occasion presents itself, we honor it with a “toast”.

All the times you have made a toast to something, somebody or event, have you ever glasses clinking to a toastwondered how clinking glasses to celebrate a special occasion ever got started and why it is called a “toast”?

Old beliefs

Ancient mythical stories regarding the fear of poisoning and thus spilling or splashing the drink into your host’s glass so you both would be drinking the same mix, seems to have been discounted.  Another aged tale is that many old seafarers believed there were demons in the rum they were drinking and it could make you do things you didn’t want to do.  They believed the sound of glasses clinking would drive old demon rum out, thus the clinking of glasses.

A somewhat substantiated story indicates that back in the 17th century, a spicy flavored piece of toast would be put into each glass or the crystal drinking bowl before dipping glasses prior to honoring a respected person, usually a lady – thus the word toast.  The lady in whose honor the drink was proposed would figuratively have given the drink a beautiful flavor.  You’ve heard the phrase, ‘toast of the town’?  That’s because the toasting was a tribute for those that were accomplished.

Another thought was that the sound was a good signal of a fruitful marriage at weddings or a prosperous year for a birthday.  Still others say that the lift upwards of the glasses is in reverence to God.

Living in wine country and being associated with the wine business, there are many occasions to offer a toast.  We will be gathering the grapes in one week and yes, we look forward to “toasting” a successful harvest.

No, there won’t be any poison here, just medal award winning wines as we will clink our glasses to those beautiful grapes, to good health, happiness and a long life.

Cheers! & Salootie Patootie!

Ron Hier



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