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Your Unpretentious Guide to Caviar

Toast to the new year by treating yourself to a delicacy.

This New Year’s Eve, go all out and serve caviar. That’s right — caviar. Why? The better question is, why not? This salty, briny delicacy may sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Read on and get ready to turn out a spread that will definitely wow, however you’re celebrating the new year.

Once you’ve learned the basics, visit your Whole Foods Market store to browse our wide selection of caviar.

First off, what exactly is caviar?

Good first question. True black caviar is roe harvested from sturgeon. The caviar we sell is Responsibly Farmed in Germany, Poland and California.

What does it look and taste like?

Expect a salty flavor with some brininess. When you press the caviar to the roof of your mouth, the smooth beads will pop (so satisfying), and that’s when the full flavor will come out. Depending on the variety you choose, you could get nutty, fishy, rich, buttery, clean or earthy flavors. Black caviar can range from small to large in size (the larger eggs tend to be super creamy, and the petite eggs are more of a texture-driven experience), golden to jet-black in color and from soft to firm in texture. More on that — including other colors caviar can be — later.

How much should I buy?

Plan for 1 ounce (30 grams) for every 2 people. (Tsar Nicoulai Caviar jars are 1 ounce.)

How do I serve caviar?

A few pointers here …

  • Keep the caviar in its unopened tin or jar in the coldest part of refrigerator before you’re ready to serve. Caviar doesn’t like heat or oxygen.

  • Take the caviar out of the fridge at least 15 minutes, or up to an hour, before serving time. Be sure to keep the caviar in its unopened tin. This will help take the chill off the caviar, so you can focus on enjoying its delicate texture and flavor.

  • Fill a small dish with ice, nestle the tin into the ice and serve the caviar right out of the tin.

  • Traditionally, dainty mother-of-pearl spoons are used, but you might not have one of those lying around. (However, certain brands, such as Tsar Nicoulai Caviar, Caviar & Caviar and Caviar Russe, include one!) You can also use a gold-plated, plastic, glass, bone or shell spoon. But if you have to use stainless steel, the world won’t end.

  • Consume the caviar within an hour of opening for the best taste, but if you have leftovers, be sure to eat the entire tin within a day.

How do I eat caviar?

If this is your first time trying caviar, don’t be scared to take a decent helping. If you only take a few eggs, they won’t have much impact — to get the full taste of the caviar, allow yourself about a half teaspoon (5 grams). Roll the pearls around on your tongue to feel the smooth texture, then press them against the roof of your mouth to pop out all that flavor. You can serve caviar on blinis, as a topping for eggs, even on chips — try Homemade Root Veggie Chips With Caviar or keep reading for some specific suggestions.

Which wines to drink with it: Bright and dry sparkling wines are easiest to drink with caviar (we recommend Jacques Bardelot Brut Champagne or Bon Ami Brut Sparkling Wine). Buttery Chardonnays can be fun, too.

Favorites from Caviar Russe:

Pacific Sturgeon (aka White Sturgeon)
Size: Large
Color: Grey to charcoal-toned
Taste: From a Northwest Pacific Coast lineage, elegantly mild and buttery with a clean finish. A great place to start for caviar newbies.
Pairing: Add a scoop on top of a simple buttered whole wheat spaghetti and finish with a sprinkling of fresh bread crumbs.

Caspian Osetra
Size: Medium to large
Color: Dark
Taste: Nutty and full-flavored.
Pairing: Spoon over buttery soft-scrambled eggs.

Siberian Sturgeon (aka Siberian Osetra)
Size: Medium
Color: Deep mahogany to black
Taste: Originating from pure Siberian sturgeon stocks with clean, focused flavor.
Pairing: Perfect for potato chips! Caviar works well with their scooped shape and crispy texture.

Caspian Golden Osetra
Size: Medium to large
Color: Amber
Taste: From pure-bred Caspian Sea osetra sturgeon, a complex and refined flavor, delivering exceptional balance and finish. Historically reserved for royalty with a brilliant appearance and rich, abundant flavor. The connoisseurs’ choice!
Pairing: Top off deviled eggs with crème fraîche subbed in for the mayonnaise in the yolk mixture.

Find something you'd like to try? See what Caviar Russe selections are available in your store.

Favorites from Tsar Nicoulai:

Classic
Size: Petite
Color: Deep Army green to graphite
Taste: A complex, rich flavor noted for its briny finish. Melts on the palate.
Pairing: Serve on water crackers with slices of daikon radish for fresh crunch.

Estate
Size: Medium
Color: Jet-black
Taste: Rich and clean with a creamy finish.
Pairing: Sprinkle on labneh-topped crispy toasts.

Reserve
Size: Large
Color: Tawny brown to platinum
Taste: Lingering creamy finish.
Pairing: Swirl into a basic risotto for a decadent special-occasion meal.

Golden Reserve
Size: Medium to large
Color: Glowing golden color
Taste: An extremely rare caviar with mild flavor with a smooth, buttery finish.
Pairing: Top off fluffy cottage cheese pancakes (with just a hint of sweetness). The golden color will be pretty dotted over the pancakes, too.

Find something you'd like to try? Browse Tsar Nicoulai Caviar in your store.

For more ways to go all-out from home, check out our Guide to New Year’s Eve In.
Must be 21+. Please drink responsibly.

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