From Rik Obiso, Attimo Winery:
Knowing how to give a toast at a business dinner or a special celebration is a skill. In the US, toasts are typically given at weddings, but around the world, toasting is not a rare event. Some cultures will use just about anything as an excuse to toast. In one of my favorite "toasting" countries, Georgia, the toastmaster is called a Tamada, and the role of the Tamada is an exquisite art form in itself. A Tamada must be a philosopher-poet, a wit and jokester, an orator and social commentator. In Georgia, toasts are not simple declarations – they are expected to be speeches mixed with entertainment, spoken verse and a bit of wisdom. Georgian toasting follows a pattern of timing and there is a specific order to each of the toasting subjects given throughout the meal.
Timing: Do not speak too long and never talk about yourself. Remember you are making an offering to someone or something else. Time your toast during the meal when you feel it is most appropriate.
Eyes: Make eye contact with the person you are toasting (if applicable) and with everyone else in the room so that you create a feeling of warmth. Be kind and gracious.
Be prepared: Make sure you know what you want to say before you actually stand up and say it. Be conscious to not say "you know," "like," "um," or "uh."
Confidence: Stand up straight; speak slowly, clearly, and with conviction. Also, if there is drinking involved at your meal, do not drink too much before your toast. A sloshed toastmaster rarely gives a good toast. Always articulate your words and speak with inflection to maintain interest and balance with your audience.
Glass: Make sure your glass has wine in it before you begin and look around the room to make sure eveyone else does, too. In many countries, it is an insult to toast with water, beer, or with an empty glass. Raise your glass at the end of your toast.
(A bit of history: The term "toast" comes from an Italian custom of adding burnt bread to wine to remove contaminants before serving to guests and to royalty. The piece of toast gave its name to making this offering. Toast well and quickly, or all you will have is soggy bread.)
For more tips and to find out more about wine toasting, we invite you to come by Attimo Winery in Christiansburg, Virginia. Every Friday at 5:00 PM we offer a themed toast to all of our customers in attendance. We are in the New River Valley and one of Virginia’s newest farm wineries; we offer a wide range of wines grown from our Virginia vineyards. We offer a Wine Club and Wine Moments and look forward to offering classes and seminars beginning this fall. Our new Tasting Room is now open.