Why Champagne and Caviar Are Such a Classic Pairing

Whether it’s for a New Year’s Eve celebration or pure gustatory pleasure, there’s a reason this duo endures.

Bellemore Caviar Photo: courtesy Anthony Tahlier

At the intimate Caviar Room, located within Restaurant Guy Savoy in Caesars Palace Las Vegas, guests are served a flute of Krug Grande Cuvée Champagne ($29) as executive chef Julien Asseo begins to prepare exotic a la carte caviar creations on the exclusive menu. That is because chefs Savoy and Asseo know Champagne is the perfect accompaniment to caviar—whether a simple 3 oz. tasting or a complex presentation of Savoy’s signature Colors of Caviar ($95), a multi-hued dish-in-a glass that includes golden osetra caviar, caviar vinaigrette, and cream of caviar.

“Caviar has a very specific place in gastronomy,” says Christopher Klapp, general manager of Petrossian Paris Boutique and Restaurant in West Hollywood, Calif. “It’s a luxurious food all on its own. But because of the high oil, fat, and salt content, it tends to pair perfectly with a nice, dry Champagne. The way it interacts with caviar is that champagne refreshes the palate. When we’re pairing caviar and Champagne, the lower the dosage the better. You don’t want sweet Champagne. You want something dry. One of my favorite pairings is either our Petrossian Special Reserve Ossetra or Shassetra – I’d get a tin of both – and pair them with Louis Roederer Brut Nature or 2004 Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs.

“Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs goes really well with caviar,” agrees executive chef John Critchley of the elegant Siren seafood-centric restaurant in Washington, DC. “It has great flavor, although I personally have always been a fan of Veuve Clicquot, everything from the Gran Dame all the way down to the NV. But there’s nothing on our Champagne list at Siren that I wouldn’t pair with caviar. Even the Virginia Thibaut-Janisson NV sparkling wine from Montebello works well. That’s because the one thing chef Robert Wiedmaier wanted me to do was to make caviar very approachable for our customers.”

To do so, Critchley created little cookies made with caviar that are both savory and sweet. “Because sugars,” he says, “are just like salt, flavor enhancers when done right. So just a little bit of sugar will enhance the flavor, instead of deadening the palate with more salt.”

For the cookies he used dough that would be use in a traditional linzer tort, made a jam out of sea buckthorn, and topped it with fresh trout roe. For another version, he makes a macaroon from white chocolate with crème fraîche and a paddlefish caviar. “The goal is, you can come into the bar and have a glass of sparkling wine and some caviar creations for a relatively inexpensive price, and in a fun way,” says Critchley.

Approachable gastronomy is also the theme at the urbane and sophisticated Baltaire Steakhouse in Brentwood, Calif., where wine director Chris Scocca has put together three Petrossian caviar and Champagne pairings. The Tsar Imperial Transmontanus caviar and the Louis De Sacy Champagne Brut combines an easy-drinking Champagne with an easy-going caviar. Baltaire’s most elegant pairing is Tsar Imperial Kaluga Caviar with Dom Pérignon 2006, while Royal Ossetra—close in taste to Beluga (which is illegal to import into the United States)—teams up perfectly with Ployez-Jacquemart Rosé Champagne, as both have a long and delicate finish.

Wine educator and consultant Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, one of just 30 Master of Wine in the U.S., is also a fan of rosé Champagnes paired with caviar. “I found the Tsar Imperial Siberian caviar quite briny and with an angular texture,” she says. “I would recommend the Jacquart Blanc de Blancs or a Blanc de Blancs in general to go with it. The Tsar Imperial Shassetra caviar, by contrast, was a bit rounder and softer in its flavor, which is why I thought the Vilmart & Cie Rosé Champagne was more delicious with it. Vilmart & Cie is one of my favorite Champagne houses, and given that they are barrel fermented, that gives the wine a rounder, softer texture, which complements the Shassetra. I could also see Vilmart & Cie Grande Reserve Premier Cru Brut NV going extremely well with it.”

As to Guy Savoy’s choice of Krug Grande Cuvée, she responded, “I think Krug Grande Cuvée should be the standard pour everywhere, including my house!”

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