Here’s to the Art of the Toast

Champagne toasts
Image by © John Springer Collection/CORBIS

As midnight approaches on New Year’s Eve, many of us will pour some bubbly and ring in 2016 with a few words, prepared or otherwise. Touching the rims of drinking vessels together and wishing your companions good health dates back at least to the Greeks in the 6th century B.C. It’s believed that the custom originated to deter purposeful poisoning, as a splash of poisoned wine could be transferred back to the perpetrator.

The word toast came later, from the Romans, when a small piece of stale, toasted bread was placed in a glass of wine prior to drinking. It served to offer a bit of food with the first drink, and also, to improve the flavor of the wine.

Today, we toast each and every round (minus the bread), whether with our closest friends, our nemesis from the office or a frenemy at a painful holiday party.

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If you’re called upon to toast, it’s best to keep things upbeat, your words to a minimum and say something nice. While this sounds easy, just search online for “worst wedding toasts ever,” and view folks who could not heed this simple advice.

A good idea is to memorize a handful of classics so that you can toss off a few simple words of sincere sentiment or mild humor, depending on the group and the occasion. Hover over the image below to get the scoop on timeless drinking toasts that will place you well on the path to being a cultured bon vivant. 

Published on December 9, 2015
Topics: Holiday PartiesHosting Guide