Dear ladies and gentlemen, a lot of you asked us to write about Chinese drinking etiquette. When is it your turn to toast your host? How to refuse the drink? When to refill the glass? Let’s discover together!
People drink during business dinners, celebrations, nights out, casual gathering, at KTV, family dinners, etc… Most popular spirits are bái jiǔ, pí jiǔ, hóng jiǔ. There is a gender difference which means it is expected from gentlemen not to refuse the drink while ladies can get away with none or drinking less. However, the more you drink the more you’ll be respected!
In formal settings, alcohol should be consumed during toasts. Drink only after the toast is given.
The most senior host will offer the first toast, when toasting take a standing position.
If you are giving a toast, first give it to the most important person considering age or hierarchy. To toast someone formally, say – 我敬您一杯 (wǒ jìng nín yī bēi) “I raise a glass to you”. In more casual situations say- 干杯 (gān bēi). The informal one is just – 喝 (hē). However, it is expected from you to dry the glass.
When you clink glasses together, it’s a good manner to lower yours and clink the top of your glass a bit lower than they hold theirs to show respect.
Use your right hand to hold your glass when toasting and drinking. You can place your left hand under the glass to show greater respect while someone is giving a toast.
Skipping the toast is unacceptable, everybody drinks at the same time, don’t drink alone.
Fill the glasses of those around you before filling your own, even if there’s barely room in their glass top it off and it will probably be reciprocated.
If someone hasn’t already offered, refill your glass immediately following a toast so that you’ll be ready for the next.
After someone has filled a glass, it should be held with two hands, one hand holding the bottom so that it will not be dropped.
Refusing drink protocol
Chinese people won’t insist on drinking if you refuse it because of the following reasons: driving, health problem, medications, pregnancy, allergies, etc. The best way is to approach to the host and explain it before a dinner. Most likely the host will excuse you from drinking during the initial toast when addressing the whole group.
It is considered rude to excuse yourself from joining in when offered a glass. You may join in with a cup of tea, there is a saying for that: “using tea to substitute alcohol” – “以茶代酒.
If you aren’t being able to keep up, good humour and getting a laugh from the group will help you when drinking in China. Use humour to your advantage!
In dinner setting, the following glasses you can use
– Wine goblet glass can be used and will be poured with any communal alcohol you order.
– Baijiu glass for drinking baijiu.
– Glass for water or tea.
Dear all, remember to enjoy yourself, mind your manners and don’t challenge anyone to a drinking contest! Is there anything you’d like to add to this guide? Please share and cheers until that!