Why we smash champagne against ships, and the best bottles with which to do it

Everything you need for a smashing launch ceremony

You may not know why we do it, but it’s likely that the image of someone smashing a big bottle of champagne against a ship’s hull – however counter intuitive – is one you’ve seen before. Dating back to the end of the nineteenth century, this curious practice remains to this day – despite The Prohibition seeing champagne replaced temporarily with water and some countries using alternative tipples, such as whisky in Scotland.

But why do we do it? Glass in the water and a waste of good wine are just two of the many reasons this practice is less than smashing, but the tradition goes way back. Seafaring societies of old believed that breaking a bottle as your ship was launched or named afforded it luck for the many seafaring journeys that lay ahead.

The US Navy’s first steel battleship, the USS Maine, was the first to be launched with champagne specifically in 1890. Potentially used to prove the hardiness of the hulls, many historians believe the reason behind the choice of sparkling wine may simply be due to the power and elegance associated with champagne.

Owners launch their vessels with bottles of the good stuff to this day. So, if you’ve got a superyacht sitting in a slipway somewhere, what bottle would be best to ceremoniously smash against it?

Moet and Chandon Grand Vintage 2006

Since 1743, Moët & Chandon has been a symbol of pleasure and splendour – so what better champers to smash against your superyacht? Although presented in a gift box, this bottle would undoubtedly look better swinging, full force, at your hull as you name your vessel. Of course, if you can’t bring yourself to waste such champagne, you’ll enjoy an initially crisp palate that develops into an expansively fruity flavour with every sip.

Bollinger La Grande Anée

The house of Bollinger has become synonymous with the premium champagne sector and La Grande Anée is the brand’s Prestige Cuvee – nothing but the best with which to launch your superyacht. With an intense nose with a smoky aroma and hints of candied citrus peel, hazelnut, almond and soft spices, this is champagne at its best – shame about smashing it, then…

Veuve Clicquot Brut NV

A half-bottle, if you were feeling bad about wasting good champagne – and this is the best. Aged for almost twice the required time, resulting in a superb marriage of freshness and power, with rich fruit and a mouth-filling mousse, this is the perfect celebratory bottle.

Laurent Perrier Brut NV

The nose is fresh and delicate, showing good complexity with its hints of citrus and white fruit. And you can trust Laurent Perrier when it comes to quality. Founded in 1812 and a family-run organisation, this is champagne made with care – so what better bottle to smash to smithereens over the hull of your yacht?

Louis Roederer Brut NV

A delicate blend of mainly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with a touch of Pinot Meunier, Louis Roederer describe this champagne as having finesse and elegance but a good weight – surely affording it the perfect heft to slam against a hull in celebration of a launch.

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