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IN civilizations from ancient Greece onwards, wine-drinking has traditionally been highly formalized. Toasts, speeches, an elaborate order of service all conspire to lengthen the evening and to limit the amount of wine consumed. Wine-drinking to ancient Greeks and Egyptians, and to the peoples of the Caucasus to this day, was a recreation, a social occasion, as well as a meal-time necessity. From these traditions we get toasts, and although these are now drunk regularly only in a ceremonial way on formal occasions, nearly every language has its terms for saluting your friends with a raised glass: Salut! Cheers! Frost! Slainte! Good health!

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