It happens at everyone of our tastings, without fail. And it’s something that we don’t even initiate ourselves as it’s almost always one of our guests who raises his/her glass first to clink their neighbor’s glass. It’s almost instinctive really, but have you ever wondered why we do it?
It turns out that this practice is centuries old (dating back to Medieval times) which probably explains why the practice is almost second nature to us nowadays. In that time period, wine was one of the few relatively safe and disease-free drinks. That time period was also one that saw poisoning as a relatively easy and untraceable means to killing off an enemy.
These two factors combined saw the introduction of a practice whereby the host would accept a small amount of his guest’s wine into his own empty glass and then drink it to prove to his guest that the drink being served was poison-free.
If, however, the guest had complete trust in his host, he would simply “clink” his glass to that of his host when it was offered to take the sample.
Bonus Fun Fact: In France, it is a custom that, when clinking glasses, to look directly in the eyes of the person whose glass you are clinking. For large group dinners, the practice can take several minutes as each person must clink and make eye contact with each other person. Not to mention the fact that, according to superstition, not looking someone in the eyes while clinking means seven years of bad sex!