Pairing Caviar and Wine

Experience the fanciest of pairings this holiday season


I recently tasted my way through five domestic caviars; excellent options in a world where the finest caviar is priced like the finest Burgundy.  Caviar is not a daily occurrence on most people’s tables, but is more of a holiday treat for the vast majority of people who enjoy caviar.
 
For these once-in-a-while indulgers, having an idea of what to expect is important, which is why I chose to review some of the top American caviars for Whatscook.in today.
 
Naturally, pairing these caviars with sparkling wine is the logical next step. I would check out my tasting notes on Whatscook.in, and then take the next step with this rough guide to pairing caviar and sparkling wines. One caviar in particular is a smashing partner for almost all sparkling wines. Check it out here!

The Wines

I wanted to try a variety of sparkling wines, so I popped four for this special tasting event. Three classic styles, and a rose just for fun.

NV Aria Cava Brut
 
A straightforward sparkling wine with big bubbles, balanced lemon, earthy and yeasty flavors with just a suggestion of sweetness.
 
NV Il Mosnel Franciacorta Brut
 
A more creamy example, elegant and rich with aromatic lime leaf, citrus and mineral flavors.
 
NV Laurent Perrier Ultra Brut
 
Bone dry and tense in the mouth with yeasty, earthy flavors in a finely balanced, delicate yet muscular, mineral style.
 
2009 Schug Rouge de Noire
 
Obviously much fruitier and with a noticeably sweet edge to the red cherry and red berry fruit flavors. This is round, open and lush.

Aria Cava Brut

Paired with:
 
Salmon Roe: Clean, creamy and mineral on the palate. A nice understated pairing.
 
America's Pride Golden Herring: Creamy and turning a little bitter on the finish with a lovely citrus peel note. A pleasant but not ideal pairing.
 
American Bowfin: This is a lovely combo, bringing out the briny flavors of the caviar and the fruit in the wine along with a lovely interplay between the creamy texture of the caviar and the tension in the wine.

American Paddlefish: This pairing really brings out the sweetness of the wine but there is a bitter undertone as well. Not ideal.
 
American Hackleback: The complexity of the wine is highlighted here with the subtle flavors of the caviar serving as a nice foundation for the flavors, serving to draw them out on the long finish.

NV Laurent Perrier Ultra Brut

Paired with:
 
Salmon Roe: This highlights the quince flavor in the wine but doesn’t do much for the caviar, though the combination is really round and lush in the mouth.
 
America's Pride Golden Herring: This just strips the wine with the acidity popping out of balance, but it does bring out a cleanliness in the caviar.
 
American Bowfin: This is remarkable, banana fruit pops on entry, then the caviar flavor kicks in enveloped by the rich, round fruit flavors that end on a singing pineapple note underlain by the clear mineral saline character of the caviar. A winner!
 
American Paddlefish: Smoky and earthy flavors bring out the richness of both the wine and the caviar, but leave an impression of dull flavor at the same time.
 
American Hackleback: Very fine, this pairing really brings out the complexity of the wine and the caviar notes are well wrapped up in the long, gossamer fruit. Lovely snap of brine and acid on the finish is refreshing.

Il Mosnel Brut

Paired with:
 
Salmon Roe: This pairing yields a lovely, fresh, creamy package whose only shortcoming is simplicity. The nuanced flavors of both the wine and the caviar are lost in the pairing.
 
America's Pride Golden Herring: The fruit flavor of the wine is fairly stripped away by this caviar, and the texture of both is somewhat rough and jarring. Not a good pairing.
 
American Bowfin: This is a great pairing, one where the fruit of the wine absolutely pops but at the same time all the nuance and complexity of the caviar flavors are well-preserved. Both the wine and the caviar remain fresh and lively.
 
American Paddlefish: The caviar flavor gets lost here and the creamy, full, nature of the wine really dominates the pairing.
 
American Hackleback: Killer champagne enhancer. This caviar totally frames and supports the flavors of the wine, building layer upon layer of flavor with a wonderful integration of the crispness of the caviar with the fullness of the wine.

2009 Schug Rouge de Noire

Salmon Roe: Something is happening here, but ultimately the flavor of the caviar gets lost within the earthy, fruity flavors of the wine. Not a bad pairing but nothing is gained from this pairing.
 
America's Pride Golden Herring: This dries out the wine nicely with the smoky flavors of the caviar, balancing out the sweetness of the wine but the rest of the caviar flavors, and texture for that matter, simply get lost here.

American Bowfin: There’s a nice interplay here between the fruit of the wine and the caviar. These work fairly well together making for some interesting flavors. A success.
 
American Paddlefish: The caviar really makes a stand with this wine. The flavors of the caviar sort of coats the wine’s fruit, adding a fresh brininess to the sweetness and yielding a fascinating interplay of flavors. A winner.

American Hackleback: The subtlety of the caviar is lost in the wine, and though there is a lovely interplay of flavors here, there is nothing really gained by pairing these two.

Conclusions

So here are a few pointers that one can learn from this pairing:
 
1) If you’re going to pair caviar with an unknown array of Sparkling wines, go for the American Bowfin. It’s delicious, a great deal, and strongly flavored enough to stand up to most sparkling wines.
 
2) The finer the caviar flavors, the more difficult they are to pair. It’s easy to overwhelm the subtlety of the finest caviar so if you’re splurging on the fish eggs, splurge on the wine as well.
 
3) Modest sweetness in a sparkling wine is not a bad thing when it comes to pairing them with Caviar. The drier of these wines was as difficult to pair as the sweetest ones. Someplace in the middle was the easiest.
 
4) This pairing is no different than any other. Match the intensity of flavors first and you should be in fine shape to enjoy your holidays!

Wine and Caviar image via Shutterstock

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