Believe it or not – to save lives, no less!
In the 17th century, it was prevalent to flavor drinks with spiced toasted bread. However, the clicking part finds its roots in a sinister, dark, reality.
The custom of touching glasses evolved from concerns about poisoning. By one account, clinking glasses together would cause each drink to spill over into the others’ glasses. In other words, it ensures that if one glass is poisoned, we all go down together.
Bonus Fact: Pope Alexander VI and his son used to poison wealthy Romans, and then confiscate their treasures under a papal decree. On one occasion, Cardinal Orsini, hid his treasures because he guessed the Pope’s intentions. Alexander poisoned him with a relatively small dose of the Cantarella, hoping that one of the cardinal’s relatives would ask the Pope him spare his life and, in return, tell him where the money was hidden. No relative arrived, and finally, the pope sent a glass of wine to Cardinal Orsini ordering him to drink it within two hours. Two hours passed, but the cardinal refused to drink the poison. The angry pope sent him one of his men, a dubious character who was known as the most talented torturer. Orsini understood the clue and drank the poison.