Whether you're ringing in Chinese New Year with a bottle of champagne, making a toast at a wedding, or casually drinking 白酒 (báijiǔ, a popular type of Chinese alcohol) with your friends, knowing a few Chinese toasts to say will always liven the mood. Here is a beginner's guide to short Chinese toasts and other Chinese drinking culture tips.
What to Say
乾杯 (Gānbēi), literally translating into "dry your cup", essentially means "cheers." This phrase can either be a very casual toast or sometimes this toast is an indication for each person to empty the glass in one gulp. If it is the latter case, this only applies to men during the first round of drinks at the beginning of the night, and women are only expected to take a sip.
隨意 (Suíyì) literally translates to "at random" or "arbitrarily." But with regards to giving a toast, it also means "cheers." This toast indicates you want each person to drink as he or she wishes.
萬壽無疆 (Wàn shòu wú jiāng) is a toast used to wish for longevity and health.
What to Do
Now that you know what to say, how do you actually give a toast? When giving a toast in Chinese, raise your glass as you give the toast. Depending on where you are, your fellow drinkers will either raise their glasses and then drink, clink glasses and then drink, or tap the bottom of the glasses against the table and then drink. If you are giving a toast with a table full of people, it is not expected that anyone clink glasses.
But there will be times when you find yourself clinking glasses with an individual. If that person is your superior, it is customary that you touch the rim of your glass below the rim of their glass. To exaggerate that you acknowledge this person's higher status, touch the rim of your glass to the bottom of their glass. This custom is especially important when it comes to business meetings.
Who Makes the Toast?
The host of the party or meeting will be the first to make the toast. It is considered rude if anyone besides the host makes the first toast. The host will also give the last toast to indicate that the event is coming to an end.
Now that you know how to give a Chinese toast, drink up and enjoy socializing!