Though caviar may be as common as Champagne or ice cold vodka at many high society soirees, few are aware of the intricate details of the luxury snack. Tasting caviar is an art as advanced as wine tasting. While the most expensive caviar comes from the roe of the Beluga Sturgeon—a kilo of Almas caviar from Iran costs $25,000 USD at the Caviar House & Prunier in London, England—true connoisseurs may actually prefer less expensive caviar in blind tastings. Just like in a blind wine tasting, the taster may prefer a less expensive varietal, depending on his palate.
Technically speaking, caviar is the salted roe of the sturgeon fish. There are many variables that impact the final taste of the caviar, including the species of sturgeon, the age of the fish, the area of harvest, and the treatment of the eggs after harvest. While caviar was once a product that was harvested in the wild, the industry is now largely farm-based. The majority of farms producing caviar are located in the US, China and Israel.
What should you look for when you taste caviar? First off, caviar should never by mushy. Each egg should glisten like a diamond from the moment you crack open the tin. When you roll the caviar around in your mouth, you should get the feel of each egg. Truly good caviar should carry an array of flavours. Some suggest that a good caviar has at least fifteen different flavours. No matter your price point, be sure to consume caviar straight away. Once you’ve opened a tin, it must be consumed within a day.
It’s interesting to note that, much like lobster, caviar was considered a peasant food in Medieval Russia. But records show that caviar was associated with luxury during Shakespearean times. Some take the notion of luxury to the extreme—Time Magazine reports that a man in Austria has created a caviar dish that he says is worth $114,000 USD per kilo. He calls this white caviar “Strottarga Bianco” and it is comprised of roe from rare albino sturgeon sprinkled with gold leaf. Again, a true caviar connoisseur may prefer a less expensive type of caviar on the grounds that the gold leaf distracts from the intended texture of the roe…