Embark with us on this journey as we discover the many, multicultural ways of making a toast… You will inevitably make a toast at least once a year, in one way or another. Be it a dinner al fresco under a giant sycamore. Or celebrating a milestone, canape in hand. Or even when celebrating the New Year. And when you do, you’ll look at one another in the eye, and utter something like ‘Cheers’ or ‘To Your Health,’ or ‘Happy New Year,’ clinking glasses in the process. But whatever your custom, a little-known fact is that every culture and language has its own toasting customs and its own toasting idiosyncrasies.
Customs in the Making
History records that the early Egyptians, Persians, and Hebrews all made toasts. As did the Saxons and the Huns. The ancient Greeks, too, drank to each other’s health. In the modern-day sense, the origins of making a toast are many and varied. Legend has it that toasting was a gesture of good faith to assure others that the drink wasn’t spiked with poison. Other possible origins of the word (and custom) argue that wine drinkers of the middle ages added toasted bread crumbs to their goblets to reduce the acidity of the bitter wine. Hence the appellation, ‘to toast.’
A World of Difference
Across the globe, most cultures have their own toasting customs. For example, in Japan, China and Korea, the customary toasts sound similar but are pronounced differently. Japanese revellers say ‘kanpai’ (pronounced ‘kan-pie’). Chinese roisterers say ‘gan bei’ (pronounced ‘gan bay’). And merrymakers in Korea say ‘gonbae’ (pronounced ‘gun bae’). Moving further west, the Czechs say ‘na zdravi’, Germans say ‘prost’, French say ‘À votre santé’, and the Dutch, ‘proost’ The Scandinavian countries further north have a substantial amount of near unpronounceable toasts. Like ‘gutår’ in Sweden for Happy New Year, and this mouthful from the Fins: ‘Hölökyn kölökyn’.
Most toasts have something to do with health or happiness. Although there are some that mean something else, like Mandarin which implores you to ‘empty your glass’, or the French who say ‘tchin tchin’, a toast which actually has no meaning but exists because of its inherent onomatopoeia (‘tchin tchin’ is meant to sound like glasses clinking). And then, of course, there’s the Danish ‘skål’, which literally means ‘bowl’. Closer to home, you may want to try toasting in one of our mother tongues like Afrikaans. In this case, ‘tjorts’ will do the trick, which, despite how funny it sounds, translates to ‘drat’ in the UK, or ‘dang’ in the US. Of course, if you find ‘tjorts’ too hard to say, you’re welcome to settle for ‘tjeers’ or simply ‘gesondheid.’
The Toast of the Town
Idiosyncrasies and onomatopoeias aside, there is a series of Bordeaux blends that are welcome in anyone’s language. And these are the spectacular wines of De Toren. Emanating from a unique hilltop location on the flanks of the Polkadraai Hills, you’ll find the opulent Book XVII (crème de-cassis, fruitcake and fig scented bouquet with a palate that is ostentatious), the De Toren Z (a soft, approachable ruby-hued beauty) and the Délicate (redolent of roses and ripe-for-the-picking strawberries). But that’s not all, you’ll also find the iconic Left Bank blend, the Fusion V (complex flavours of liquorice, black cherry, cedar and dark berries) and not to mention the pride of the cellar, the bold and powerful The Black Lion (arguably one of the most luxurious 100% Shiraz ever produced in South Africa). All of which will – speaking of toasts – leave you speechless.
Of course, if you are ever without words, try this great Irish toast, presented here with an African twist:
‘May the road rise to meet you.’
‘May the wind be always at your back.’
‘May the (African) sun shine warm upon your face. And (African) rains fall soft upon your fields.’
And to that, we say, ‘cheers’ from all of us at De Toren.