wine-glasses-clink.jpg It’s become second nature. You are out with friends, the drinks are poured and everyone raises their glasses, clinks them and wishes each other well. It transcends cultures and languages and makes new friends out of strangers (actually that might be the alcohol). People take their “cheers’ing” seriously. There are rules. You must look the other people in the eye as you clink or else you suffer 7 bad years of sex - and that is the last thing you want to start off a night of drinking. But why do we do this ritual? Where did it begin and why has it stuck around?

Gothamist was out with some friends the other night and we all raised our glasses and clinked as we always do and one of our new friends shared a theory that we had not heard before. Turns out, there are many stories out there…

Theory 1: the “T.O.A.S.T” theory
Drinking wine is a sensory experience. You hold the glass, appreciate the color, smell the aromas and finally, you taste it. Hopefully it was everything you wanted and more. But there is something missing - the sound. You can’t really hear wine (aside from champagne, but that might be a stretch). So the T.O.A.S.T theory goes, the reason we clink our glasses is to make the experience completely sensory, adding the element of sound. In fact the word toast stands for each of the senses: Touch Olfactory Auditory Sight and Taste.

Theory 2: the “If I go down, I’m taking you with me” theory
Back in ancient Greek times a common way of killing someone was poisoning his or her drink. So, before everybody sipped on their Retzina they would clink their glasses so the wine spilled into each other’s glass. This way, all will be fine or all would be poisoned. Gothamist sometimes feels this way when we share the family special at our favorite dive in Chinatown.

Theory 3: the “burnt toast” theory

This one is the least exciting and therefore probably true. Romans put burnt toast in their wine because charcoal can rehabilitate a bad wine, and burnt toast was the charcoal of choice. The Latin word for "roasted" is tostus, hence where term “toast” comes from. After the burnt toast was put in the drink, they would raise their glasses and drink to the health of a lady, hoping that the lady’s name would flavor the wine better than the burnt bread.

Gothamist is still on the fence for this one and even if we never know the truth, what we love about this ritual is how it connects people. Having a great glass of wine is one thing but being able is share it with friends makes it taste so much better. And we’ll drink to that.

Cheers.