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What's the sound everyone associates with a toast? That's right, it's the clink two wine or champagne glasses make when you tap them together. Clinking glasses is an important part of any toast, but do you have any idea why we do that? What's behind the clinking?

In this article, we'll look at wine toasting and clinking glasses etiquette. By the end of the page, you'll be an expert who knows how to make a toast (both in public and in private) and clink glasses the right way!

Why Do We Clink Glasses?

Most of us toast and clink glasses without thinking. It's something we learned to do at a young age, and the habit remained into adulthood.

What does "clink" mean? Clink is the onomatopoeic word used to describe the sound of two wine glasses tapping against each other.

But why do we clink glasses? Where did the tradition come from? There are two schools of thought on the origin of clinking glasses:

Poison Prevention

In medieval times, wine was safer to drink than water, thus it was the most common beverage to use for poisoning enemies. When a host served the cups of wine (or other liquors), they would clink their cups with their guests.

This would cause the liquid to slop over into the other cups, mixing the liquor and proving that the host was not intentionally poisoning their guests. Or, the clink of glasses was a guest's way to signify that he trusted the host.

Festivity

The sound of wooden or clay mugs tapping against each other or against the table was a celebratory sound. As mugs gave way to glass and crystal goblets, it was believed the chiming clink was a happy sound, one reminiscent of church bells. Medieval people would clink their glasses to drive away the Devil, who hung around festive occasions in order to tempt men into sin.

Are either of these two origin stories correct? There are no records of the first use of clinking glasses, so there's no way to be certain. Still, they're a fun way to explain where the tradition of clinking our wine glasses came from!​

clinking glasses etiquette

Wine Toasting and Clinking Etiquette: Clinking Glasses the Right Way

We tend to clink glasses without really thinking about what we're doing. After all, we're happy and celebrating, and it's a reflexive gesture. But is there a "right way" to clink glasses? The answer: Yes, there is. It’s all pretty obvious really, but a useful reminder nonetheless.

There are a few things you need to know:​

​NEVER clink the rims

Take a look at your average glass of wine, and you'll notice that the rims are thin. This means they're fairly fragile and will shatter easily if you tap them too hard. Crystal wine glasses are even thinner than glassware, and thus are more likely to break. 

When clinking glasses, never clink the rims together. You may crack the wine glass. Even if you don't break the glass during your toast, the repeated clinking can weaken the glass and make it more prone to breakage.

Another downside of clinking rims: you're more likely to spill wine. To clink the rims of the glass, you have to tilt the glass toward your guest. The forward motion of the clink could cause wine to slosh over the rim of your glass, making a mess. Don't do it!

Clink the bell

All wine glasses have a bell - the rounded part in the middle of the glass. This is the strongest part of the glass, and the best part to clink. 

You should always tap the bell of your glass to the bell of your guest's glass. Not only will it reduce the risk of breakage, but it produces a delightful chiming sound that you'd never get by clinking the rim.

Make sure that you hold your glass at the right angle. Tilt the glass slightly toward yourself, keeping the rim away from your partner's glass. Tap the bell of your glass to the bell of his for a proper clink.

Be gentle

The last thing you want is to shatter your glass with an overly forceful toast. The beauty of glass is that it produces the gentle clink even with minimal contact. Use a gentle hand as you clink your glasses together.

Don't fill it

With the right amount of wine in your glass, no more than a third full, you will get that nice clink sound with a gentle tap. If your wine glass is too full, the clink will be muted. For a proper toast, fill your glass with with a little wine, toast, and drink. You can always ask the waiter to pour more wine once your glass is empty.

Whether you're at a wine tasting, a wedding, or serving wine at a dinner party, it's important that you know how to serve (and drink) wine properly. 

Clinking glasses is an important part of any toast, but you do it as a polite gesture to your host or fellow guests. Knowing how to do it right will prove that you are a sophisticated person who knows their way around a glass of wine.

Enjoy your organic wine and drinks in good company, and happy clinking and toasting!​

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