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Look Into My Eyes

By Michael "Ty, the Wine Guy" Taiani csw

With Halloween just around the corner, Dracula’s words to lure a victim might seem appropriate here. However, what I am really referring to has something to do with the art of “toasting”; that activity used to mark a special occasion, to celebrate a moment with a few chosen, heart-felt words and libations (any wine or spirits, although sparkling wine—Champagne in particular— is considered both prestigious and good luck). Weddings, birthdays, graduations, anniversaries and reunions generally are common events that provide opportunities for such toastings— though I have found many others!

Essentially, a wine toast is a miniature speech, delivered to one or more people (more often than not, before a group, which for some people produces a degree of anxiety). But with forethought and preparation, anyone can successfully deliver a wine toast. Toasts can be sentimental, humorous, or even a solemn “good-bye” to a loved one. Nevertheless, all begin with the signaling of one’s good intention to toast, either by raising their glass, or more commonly, by tapping their glass. Most interestingly, the latter is considered to be rude by several prominent authorities in the Champagne trade (and they ought to know!)

And although there are no specific “ground rules” for toasting, the following guidelines are considered basic etiquette when doing so:

• Except in very small and informal gatherings, a toast is given while standing, and generally by the host. If you believe that host is not intending to, then request the host’s indulgence before performing a toast yourself.

• When standing, keep the glass at waist level.

• When toasting, you may lightly clink your glass with the glasses of the guests on either side of yourself, and then raise your glass with a warm smile, nod to other guests, and look into their eyes!

• Do not place the glass down until the toast has been completed.

• If you’re a smoker, refrain from smoking until after the toasts have been completed.

• And for obvious safety reasons, never engage in a “fireplace toast” (breaking glasses into a fireplace after the toast).

If you are toasted,

• Never drink or stand to a toast – remain seated.

• Afterward, you should stand up and respond to the toast, even if it is with just a simple “thank-you.”

Okay, now that you’re armed, I suggest calling together some friends for a genuine toast with any one of the Hudson Valley’s elegant sparklers:

• Baldwin Vineyards Memories

• Brimstone Hill Domaine Bourmont

• Brotherhood Blanc de Blancs, or their newest addition, B Sparkling

• Hudson-Chatham Blanc de Blanc

• Whitecliff Vineyards North River Champenoise – coming this fall.

Toast to the day – Carpe diem!


Michael Taiani Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), aka “Ty the Wine Guy,” is a food and wine consultant and marketer. Assisting people with food and wine is his passion.

Hudson Valley Wine magazine Summer 2014 issue

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