$300 Million Navy Vessel Christened with Cheapo Bottle of Barefoot Wine

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The choice was actually very scientific.

A lot of taxpayer money has gone into the United States Navy’s latest warship, the USS Billings – somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 million. But though the ship may have come with a heck of a price tag, at least they didn’t blow a lot of money on the wine used for christening it. For the traditional launching ceremony, Lockheed Martin settled on breaking an $8 bottle of Barefoot Bubbly Moscato on the bow.

Though a cheapo sweet sparkler might seem like an odd choice for such an important vessel, the bottle of Barefoot made sense for reasons far beyond its price. And Lockheed Martin actually put a lot of thought into it – which we guess we should have expected from a company who builds things like missiles and spacecraft. “We settled on using the Barefoot sparkling wine after doing a study using various Champagne brands and bottle types,” Lockheed Martin’s John Torrisi told Wine Spectator. “In the end, we chose the one that broke most consistently when scored. For whatever reason, the Barefoot bottle breaks in all climates from 10 degrees below to 100 degrees F and always produces a consistent splash for photography/videography.”

Yes, leave it up to a defense contractor to spend what sounds like thousands of dollars on testing just to end up choosing the cheapest bottle of wine. Speaking of which, isn’t it common sense that cheap bottles will break more easily than expensive bottles? Though we don’t have a PhD in physics to back up that claim.

However, the folks at ChefSteps in their instructions on how to sabre your Champagne open with a sword explain that sparkling wines typically have thicker glass, which can be troublesome if you're trying to intentionally break the bottle.

"A bottle of Champagne is under about 90 pounds of pressure per square inch. The diameter of the opening is less than 3/4-of-an-inch wide, so there is a force of roughly 35 pounds pushing on the cork at all times. In the early years of Champagne-making, thinner glass bottles would regularly burst in the cellar, as secondary fermentation released carbon dioxide into the bottle and increased the pressure. Among other mitigating techniques, Champagne houses added wire cages to hold in the corks, and thickened the glass to more effectively contain pressure."

Regardless, if you want to see just how consistent a splash can appear for videography when you put an $80 billion aerospace and defense company on the case, the footage is on YouTube. Oh, and if you're ever looking to do some bubbly splashing of your own, maybe consider buying a bottle of Barefoot yourself. It seems like Lockheed Martin’s got this one figured out.

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