TIL: You can buy bottles of fake bubbly for boat christenings that are designed to break

For more than 15 years I've lived in Alameda, a lovely island city in San Francisco's Bay Area. Because we're surrounded by water, there's a boating community. Thus, we have marine stores. I am not part of the boating community, so I had never gone into any of these stores. That is, until today. Our local West Marine store is moving to another part of town, so they're having a big sale. I decided it was time to check it out.

It was nicer than I expected. They're set to close at the end of March, so a lot of the shelves were barren. But there were still some neat nautical products left like international code flags, personal locator beacons, and boat beanbag chairs.

Though, what really caught my eye were these bottles of fake champagne. They're for when you christen a boat. You just take the bottle and smash it against the vessel. They don't contain alcohol (one reviewer says it contains a "soapy liquid") and are scored to break easily.

Read for yourself. Here's the product's description:

Save the real champagne for guests and break this special christening bottle on your vessel’s prow. The bottle is scored around the middle and housed in a net to ensure that your first swing is a smashing hit. The result: cheers from the crowd when an impressive-yet safe-spray of imitation bubbly celebrates your boat’s dent-free debut.

Watch and learn:

photo by Rusty Blazenhoff Read the rest

The sound of good champagne

Acoustics researchers suggest that it's possible to hear the quality of champagne just by listening to the bubbles form. According to the University of Texas scientists, "There is a well-known notion that the quality of a sparkling wine is correlated to the size of its bubbles, and we are investigating whether the bubble size distribution of a sparkling wine can be obtained from simple acoustical measurements." Many people believe that smaller bubbles mean a better taste. From Smithsonian:

To measure the sounds of wine, researchers used small hydrophones—microphones which can record underwater sounds. They poured California Brut and Moët & Chandon Imperial champagne into flutes and listened in as the bubbles formed. The results suggest that they could indeed hear the fine champagne, discerning that bubbles of this drink are slightly smaller in size, more evenly sized and have more activity than the lower-quality sparkling wine.

More here: "Pop the bubbly and hear the quality" (EurekaAlert!) Read the rest

Newly-discovered orchid smells like champagne

In Madagascar, botanist Anton Sieder recently discovered an orchid with huge flowers that smell of champagne. Royal Botanic Gardens researcher Johaan Hermans confirmed that the plant, now named Cynorkis christae, is new to science. From The English Garden:

“It is quite a find,” said Johan, who saw the orchid in the flesh in January this year after travelling to the mountains with a team from Kew and Paris. “One of the most noticeable traits of this new orchid is its sweet scent, which one of our team likened to smelling like champagne,” he added.

Cynorkis christae also has enormous flowers, with a 5cm (2in) wide lip and a 16cm (6in) spur. Most of the flower is pure white, while the top petals have distinctive maroon markings...

The plant was named after Anton’s wife Christa, hence Cynorkis christae.

"New Orchids Discovered in Madagascar" (The English Garden via @NadiaMDrake) Read the rest

The CIA's east-coast and west-coast bureaux had long-running rivalries over Champagne

Michael from Muckrock writes, "The 'friendly' rivalry between America's East and West Coasts extends from hip-hop feuds to pizza bagels, and recently unearthed memos regarding California champagne from the CIA's declassified archive shows that even the Agency isn't immune." Read the rest

A champagne gun for your epic battles of excess

This is the Champagne Gun, a $459 contraption with which you can spray down your guests with bubbly in a violent fantasy ritual of excess. Read the rest