Champagne is traditionally the bottle of choice for ceremonial ship christenings, but in our post-norm world, some of the quaint old niceties have been cast overboard. The United Kingdom's Royal Navy launched its newest ship late last month, with Brexit on the horizon, and decided to do a little patriotic flex during the christening ceremony. They opted for a made-in-Britannia sparkling wine in place of French fizz to smash against the hull of the HMS Tamar patrol vessel.
Camel Valley Vineyard—a Royal Warrant holder and one of the wineries rumored to have supplied pours at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal wedding—provided the alt-sparkling wine of honor for the March 21 occasion, as the ship was lowered into the water to the cheers of local dignitaries and the trumpeting of a military band.
The moment TAMAROPV became HMS TAMAR - she was officially named by pressing a button to smash a bottle of Camel Valley ‘Cornwall’ Brut against the hull – in recognition of the ship being affiliated to Cornwall.— Ministry of Defence (@DefenceHQ) March 21, 2019
“It is a great honor to see a Cornish wine used for the naming of Tamar, and we are delighted that Camel Valley Cornwall Brut has been chosen as her affiliated bottle," wrote winery owner Bob Lindo in a press release.
Lindo also divulged to Unfiltered insider intel from christening practice: "When rehearsing, the bottle refused to break, until a score was machine-cut into the glass—showing just how hard couriers have to work to break them!"
To summarize, the Tamar launched on Brexit eve with a noisy display of nationalistic pomp complete with repeated, frustrated attempts to make a clean break. It proudly carries on a 107-year-long British tradition of on-the-nose seaborne metaphors.
In other christening-related flotsam and jetsam, bottles have also been busting against some of the biggest civilian ships in the sea in recent months. In March, it was mega cruise ship MSC Bellissima, the largest ship to be ceremonially named in the U.K., that got a bottle strike across the bow; silver-screen star Sophia Loren did the honors—as is her right as the vessel's "godmother"—and Unfiltered's favorite tenor-vintner Andrea Bocelli performed with his son, Matteo.
And back in November, the biggest cruise ship—period—Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas, was launched by a baby. One-year-old Ocean PenaVega pushed the button that sent a bottle of bubbly down a zipline and crashing into that ship's 228,081-ton flank. Ocean shared in the celebration with the folks who named him that, mom Alexa, star of the beloved live-action children's espionage franchise Spy Kids, and dad Carlos, a Royal Caribbean Captain's Club Elite member.
Over on land, we've been celebrating human accomplishments with Champagne as well, and botching them even more extravagantly. When Estelle Randall's team won the Welsh Women’s Premier League trophy, the goaltender of Cardiff Metropolitan University's Women's Football Club decided to pop a bottle on the pitch, just as champions of American-rules football do after a victory. After a few moments of bottle-wrestling, the cork shot off with a vengeance, surprising the keeper, sending her hurtling backward onto the ground, and earning her an outburst of laughter and cheers from her teammates.
Randall gave Unfiltered the play-by-play: "I think they already found it funny that I struggled for so long to get the cork off and were equally as surprised as myself when the cork popped off on its own, spraying most of the Champagne into my face, adding to the comedy of the situation." Luckily, her talent making clutch dives for saves during gametime prepared Randall for this tumble. "I have already thanked my goalkeeper coach on teaching me great technique this season," she said. "If we win [again], there will be more Champagne to spray. If so, I hope to be more successful at it."
Down in Austin, Texas, after the 2019 IndyCar Classic racing competition, organizers and competitors put an American sort of spin on the Champagne fail. Rookie driver Colton Herta became the youngest winner in IndyCar history, at just 18, but according to American-rules, uh, rules, he's not yet qualified to drink alcohol. But instead of being handed a bottle of non-alcoholic cider to celebrate on the podium, Herta mistakenly received a bottle of sparkling wine meant for his elder second-place and third-place competitors. "Oh yeah, I took a swig. I guess it's real," Herta said after the mix-up. Safe to say he'll be celebrating future wins with lots of bubbly once he turns 21, while the second-place finisher confirmed he instead had to settle for the second-tier fizz.
Earlier this week, Sonoma's Jordan winery announced an elaborate April Fool's gag—they'd be making cork-soled, barrel-boxed "Air Jordan" Cabernet sneakers. But the real prank was that the prank turned out to be real. Or mostly anyway: Vintner John Jordan and his team met up with cobbler Troy Cole of Los Angeles shoe-house Kickasso Kustoms intending to create hoax footwear. "Initially, I wanted the shoe to be over-the-top on the features so much so that it was ridiculous—like a Durand corkscrew that popped out of the midsole and barrel stave lace locks," Jordan rep Lisa Mattson explained to Unfiltered. But when the team was workshopping the concept, Jordan decided it was so crazy it just might work.
“I spent the last football season watching my friend Cam Jordan play on astroturf and thought Jordan [the winery] should have some team shoes just like the Saints,” Jordan told Unfiltered via email. “Troy Cole is a masterful shoe artist respected by many NFL players. We knew he could deliver on our ideas.”
And so the Air Jordan XV Retro 2015 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon Limited Edition kicks were born. The "cork midsoles" and "inserts marinated in coq au vin for 12 months" are gags, but the rest of the zany wine flourishes were actually doable. Barrel-stave aglets, detachable corkscrew and Cabernet-infused leather are all the real deal, and now the shoes can be yours—wait, no, that part is fake as well. Unless you are a particularly athletic friend of Jordan wine, like Landon Donovan, Jordan [from football], Troy Aikman, LeBron, that level of athletic. (Jordan winery is not licensed to sell Nikes, but they're making a few custom pairs, Mattson explained.) The only feature TBD is boxing the shoes in French oak barrels: So far the Jordan Dept. of Hijinks has only been able to engineer mini-barrels than can hold size 9s or smaller. Making giant tiny barrels is a pretty specialized skill.
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