Pinot Noir? Caviar: a look at non-Pinot pairings for Caviar


Caviar, a food rich in both price and taste, is normally paired with champagne or vodka, two different beverages that are light and allow the caviar to do the heavy lifting.  It was a wonderful experience to enjoy the same buttery richness of caviar with a more substantial glass of wine (or twelve) in hand.

John Knierim, the Vice President of Calvisius Caviar, has been in the food industry for over 40 years.  Eloquent and exceptionally well versed in all things food related, John’s easygoing manner and breadth of intelligence made for an exceptional tasting of caviar.

Michael Madrigale is the VP of Digital Marketing for Wine Access, a direct-to-consumer wine sales company.  Prior to that, Madrigale served as Head Sommelier at Bar Boulud, Boulud Sur, and Epicerie Boulud.

Needless to say, these successful and personable gentlemen expertly joined forces to create an entertaining and informative afternoon.

Though most people associate caviar with the icy waters of Russia, the bulk of the world’s caviar (25 tons!) currently hails from Italy, between Venice and Milan.  Calvisius Caviar is Friends of the Sea certified, a company entirely dedicated to maintaining the standards of sustainable seafood from fisheries and aquaculture.

Caviar is spawned from sturgeon, and its flavor changes by species, identified by its Latin taxonomy.  Born in aquifer water with no filtration, caviar is 3.4% salt, and the fat content of the fish makes all the difference in the salinity and ultimately the mouth-feel of the caviar.  Sturgeon is a finicky fish, known to produce soft eggs that are robust in flavor whenever the conditions line up properly.


One of the coolest aspects of tasting different types of caviar is figuring out the nuances of this delicacy. For example, if your caviar has a pop to it, its pasteurized.  Caviar can be substituted or added anywhere you would use butter.  The rich, creamy texture of an unorthodox pairing (like an avocado) can be enhanced by the salty, umami rich tang that caviar provides.


The grapes of Bordeaux are elegant, adaptable grapes grown in one of the finest terroirs in the world.  The many facets of Bordeaux highlight the versatility in caviar flavors, resulting in a seemingly endless cache of pairings.  We tasted through 12 different kinds of Bordeaux, beginning with the Sauvignon Blanc based Bordeaux Blanc.  The rosé flight was my favorite, featuring three Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blends (two which were 50/50 and one that was 70/30) as well a fourth that was 100% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Additional menu items, generously prepared by Chef Nelson Maldanado of Bobo, accentuated the Bordeaux and caviar pairings by incorporating the caviar into other dishes.  Crowning a Beau Soleil oyster, garnishing a garlicy Rock Shrimp, and adding an almost absurd level of decadence to a foie gras torchon, Chef Maldanado’s menu was artfully crafted to showcase the lusciousness of the caviar.  The added layer of sophistication provided by Michael Madrigale’s wine pairings rounded out the afternoon in a delightful, enlightening way.

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