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[ NSIDE etiquette ]

International Holiday Toasting Etiquette How to handle holiday toasting like a pro

Korey Howell Photography

By: [Sharon Schweitzer]

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is an etiquette and international protocol expert. For more information, visit www. protocolww.com, www.twitter.com/ austinprotocol or www.facebook.com/ protocolww.

Ever wonder why certain business colleagues are completely comfortable at holiday parties when the toasts begin? Do you want to add international flair to your holiday conversations? Handle non-alcoholic toasts with ease? Knowing the history of holiday toasting etiquette will help you navigate the season like a pro. 1. Toasting history: The ancient Greeks began the art of toasting to one’s health when the host took the first, good faith sip of the communal wine. This first sip assured the guests that the beverage was not poisoned. The word “toast” originated from the Roman practice of placing a piece of spiced, charred bread into the wine to mellow the flavor. Back then, when drinking to someone’s health, the cup was drained to reach the piece of saturated toast at the bottom. 2. Non-alcoholic toasts: Today, it is perfectly acceptable to toast with a sparkling beverage, ginger ale, club soda, seltzer, water or juice during the holidays, or anytime. Keep in mind: It is about the celebration and not the liquid. Toasting is about the sentiment of the occasion. It may be a highlight at weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, retirements, New Year celebrations and holiday business gatherings. 3. Toasting etiquette: When a managing partner or CEO offers a toast for a colleague, raise your glass at the conclusion of the toast, when

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the host raises his or her glass. It is not necessary to touch your glass with everyone present, as it is distracting. Pause after the toast and observe. Most likely, the recipient will reciprocate with a toast. If you have been a star performer, you may be honored with a toast. Stand, listen and accept the toast graciously. Refrain from drinking a toast to yourself, just as you would not clap for yourself. Be sure to stand and reciprocate with a toast to the person who toasted you, thanking them for the event and recognition. 4. New beginnings and christenings: Champagne was traditionally served at the coronation of French kings. Champagne has historically been associated with christenings, new beginnings and rare moments. It has become associated with New Year’s Eve festivities around the world for this reason. 5. What is champagne? Champagne is a sparkling wine that comes from the region of Champagne in France. It is widely believed that the monk Dom Perignon “invented” champagne in the 1600s. It is known that he discovered that the best champagnes were made from blends of the champagne grapes, the varietals pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay. The smaller and faster the bubbles, the finer the champagne. Scientists have determined that there are 95 million bubbles in a bottle of champagne. Other sparkling wines such as prosecco originate in Italy. Sparkling wine is also

produced in other global regions. 6. Champagne bottle opening: The proper way to open a bottle of champagne (avoiding spray, injury or spills) is to hold the bottle at a 45-degree angle, grasp the champagne cork gently with one hand and turn the bottom of the bottle firmly with the other hand. Be sure to twist the bottom of the bottle slowly, until you feel the cork gently release in your hand. 7. Sabering champagne: A fascinating way to open a bottle of champagne involves the lost art of sabering. Legend has it that Napoleon’s mounted artillery officers started the trend of sabering. While riding a horse, these soldiers would use a blade to cut the top off a champagne bottle with the cork still intact. Today, for an experienced wine connoisseur to accomplish this feat, precise preparation must occur. First, the bottle should rest upside-down 60 minutes in ice, and must be very, very cold. Then the bottle is removed from the ice, slowly turned upright and held at a 45-degree angle with no fluid touching the cork. Gently touch the blade on the shoulder of the bottle, and then use a short follow-through movement with the blade using the elbow, not the wrist. Please think twice before attempting to saber your champagne, as this is mostly a lost art that could result in shattered glass in the champagne or worse. 8. Happy New Year globally: One of the oldest of all holidays is New

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NSIDE San Antonio Business November/December 2012  

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Our vision is to inspire, to educate and to encourage growth in the San Antonio community through a business resource that is highly creativ...

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