Raising a toast with engraved champagne flutes

Raising a toast with engraved champagne flutes

A tradition that can be traced back to ancient times, raising a champagne flute and toasting health, wealth and happiness is one of society’s oldest customs. A way of honouring and celebrating important events and people, toasting rituals were common practice among many ancient tribes such as the Greeks, Egyptians, Persians, Saxons and Huns. It is believed that Attila the Hun insisted on no fewer than three toasts per course at elaborate feasts, no doubt to boast about heroic victories and past glories. Nowadays, toasts are more likely to be given in less boisterous circumstances; for instance, raising engraved champagne flutes has become a firm tradition at events like weddings and birthdays.

Clinking glasses together

The charming custom of clinking a glass against another while toasting may actually have sinister origins. It is believed that the custom started as the popularity of raising a toast spread through Europe, and could have been a way of ensuring that a drink wasn’t poisoned. By tipping and clinking glasses together the liquid was splashed into the other glass.

However, this theory has no evidence to support it, and the custom may have just begun as a way of adding sound to the experience. Regardless of its origin, the familiar clinking of champagne flutes at a celebration is a favourite ritual.

To ‘toast’ the wine

A common practice in Roman times was to add a piece of stale or toasted bread to wine to soak up any acidity. This continued throughout European countries and was mentioned in Shakespeare’s ‘Merry Wives of Windsor’ when Falstaff demands: “Go fetch me a quart of sack; put a toast in’t”. Wine in ancient times was unlike the wine of today and could be very bitter.

Sometimes the person being honoured would be presented with the piece of wine-soaked toast, and the term ‘toasting’ began to emerge in popular language.

The Toastmaster’s role

With the tradition of toasting growing more common, by the 17th and 18th Centuries, professional toastmasters were beginning to appear. Their role was to ensure that ‘toasts’ were fairly shared and excessive toasting was restricted, as it was sometimes known for guests and hosts to toast every single person present, resulting in mass drunkenness.

Drinking games were also making an appearance, and a ‘referee’, like a Toastmaster, was often called upon. Today, toasting is rather more civilised and restrained, and toasting etiquette suggests that a polite sip after a toast is better practice than using a toast as an excuse to get drunk.

Cheers for champagne

A welcome addition to the toasting ritual is the preference of many for a glass of champagne as the chosen drink. Weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and other important life events are not complete without toasting the health, wealth and happiness of family and friends with beautiful engraved champagne flutes. Saying ‘cheers’ and raising a glass of champagne has become as much a part of the toasting ritual today as it was when the Ancient Greeks first offered libations to their gods.

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