Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,
After a toast, what is the proper way to clink our glasses? A friend of mine told me that if you know that you are younger than the person with whom you are clinking then the edge of your glass should clink lower, as a sign of respect. But I have also been told that it doesn't matter. Which is it?
Dear Mr. Clink,
Clinking of glasses after a toast can be done in a variety of manners depending on the country, culture, and level of formality. In some countries, to show respect to someone, you would hold your glass lower when about to clink. In other countries, clinking of glasses is not done. In certain cultures, everyone clinks together in the center of the table.
Basically, in the United States, glasses are clinked at weddings, parties, and casual dinners. In Switzerland, during business meals clinking glasses with everyone at the table is encouraged (http://www.austrade.gov.au/Default.aspx?PrintFriendly=True&ArticleID=4348).
But, in Germany, most toasts do not involve clinking glasses except for special celebrations such as birthdays or weddings. (http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/army/ae-pam-360-6.pdf)
Clinking is not normally done at formal or official functions. The Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta mentions in their document, "Protocol and Ceremony," that guests should not clink glasses after toasting The Queen.
Some people prefer not to clink glasses, in which case, it would be sufficient to simply raise your glass and extend the arm a bit.
Clinking glasses is festive, fun, and adds to the enjoyment of the celebration. If clinking is done at a large table, then only clink with persons sitting immediately on your left and right, but not those sitting across from you. However, you would acknowledge those sitting across by raising your glass to them.
Clinking Glasses Tips
1. Hold the glass by the stem.
2. Raise the glass bowl to about nose level.
3. Gently touch the glasses together.
4. Make eye contact as you say something like, Cheers!