Clinking Glasses: Wine Toasting Etiquette

Vintage Roots

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 clink our glasses? What’s behind the clinking?

In this blog post, 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!

Clinking Glasses: Why do we clink glasses? When did we start clinking glasses?

how to 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 (=the formation of a word from a sound associated with it) used to describe the sound of two wine glasses tapping against each other. The sound of clinking glasses probably comes to mind as you read this. But why do we clink glasses? Where did the tradition of clinking glasses come from?

A Short History of Clinking Glasses

According to The Farmers’ Almanac, there are different theories going around about the history of clinking glasses and toasting. What we do know is that the Romans and Greeks and other ancient civilizations honoured their gods by toasting to them. Perhaps this is where the practise of modern day cheers-ing and toasting comes come. Another theory holds that it was a way to ward off evil spirits who hung around festive occasions to tempt men and women. And yet another theory holds that, in the middle ages, clinking glasses was a way to mix the contents from each cup and ensure that guests and hosts weren’t poisoning each other. Or perhaps we started clinking glasses more when glass wine glasses came to be and we realised the sound of clinking glass was a pleasant one … whatever the true origins, the act of clinking glasses and toasting has been happening for quite a long time!

Wine Toasting and Clinking Glasses Etiquette: How to clink 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. Here are four tips you need to know.

Clinking Glasses Tip #1: 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!

Clinking Glasses Tip #2: 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 theirs for a proper clink.

Clinking Glasses Tip #3: 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.

Clinking Glasses Tip #4: Don’t overfill your wine glass

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 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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