The holidays were furthest from most New Yorkers’ minds on July 12, 2016. The sun was beaming down, temperatures were in the 80s and summer was in high gear. But songs like “Deck the Halls” and “White Christmas” were playing at the Eventi Suite and South Veranda at the Eventi Hotel in Midtown in New York City that day for a Taittinger champagne, Calvisius caviar, and Jacques Torres chocolate “Christmas in July” collaboration showcasing the “Act of Celebrating the Holidays” in style.
There are few things more indulgent and celebratory than champagne from over 200 year old, family owned, Taittinger vineyards, gourmet chocolates from Jacques Torres, and fine pearls of savory and pungent caviar from Calvisius, and the trio spelled the ultimate party.
But the right pairings are important and a seminar headed by Champagne Taittinger Artistic Director Vitalie Taittinger, Top NYC Sommelier Chantelle Pabros, and Calvisius Caviar spokesperson John Knierim, helped to break down the perfect champagne and caviar pairings. Like champagne, different types of caviar vary extensively in taste. For champagne, the size of the bubbles or the amount of effervescence, is partially determined by the production process and the amount of time it is aged. For caviar, the size of the pearls and the texture is influenced to an extent by the species of sturgeon, and the length of cultivation.
But first, the proper way to eat caviar. Just like there is a proper way to hold a champagne glass (by the base or the stem of the glass), there is a proper way to eat caviar. For purists, a metal spoon is never used to serve caviar. The metal compromises the taste of the caviar when it comes in contact with the spoon. Do as the Russians do. Spoon the caviar onto the fleshy area on the back of the hand where the thumb connects to the forefinger. Take the caviar in one bite and let it cover the roof of the mouth before swallowing it. Sip some champagne and let the champagne interact with the linger flavors of the caviar.
A Champagne Taittinger Brut La Francaise N.V. paired seamlessly with a Calvisius Caviar Tradition Prestige. This particular species of white sturgeon obtained from 11 year old sturgeon originating from the Pacific Ocean between Alaska and Baja, California, is characterized by larger eggs and a dark grey/black hue. The orchard fruit notes of this Taittinger vintage blends with the subtle nuttiness of the caviar, while breaking through the salinity and creaminess, and cleansing the palate.
A Champagne Taittinger Prelude Grands Crus N.V. with a higher concentration of Chardonnay grapes and creamy, toasty and buttery notes complemented a Calvisius Caviar Oscietra Classic. This caviar comes from 12-13 year old sturgeon originating from the Black Sea, the Azov Sea and the Caspian Sea, and is characterized by medium sized, rich golden brown eggs. The subtle pungency of the caviar blended nicely with the toasted and nutty elements of the champagne while the acidity tempered its richness.
A Champagne Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs, 2006 comprised of 100 percent Chardonnay paired wonderfully with a Calvisius Caviar Siberian from 6-8 year old sturgeon originating from the Baikal Lake Basin and the Ob River and the Kolyma River in Siberia. This caviar is characterized by medium sized eggs ranging between 2.2-2.7 millimeters in circumference with a grey/amber hue. The acidity, and complex notes of brioche, almond and citrus fruit, of this vintage champagne rounded out the concentrated but balanced salinity, creamy nuttiness and delicate pungency of the savory caviar.
A Champagne Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne Rose, 2006 might not be the first type of champagne to come to mind when thinking of champagne and caviar pairings but this champagne demonstrated that rose’ makes a fine complement to this delicacy from the sea. It worked particularly well with a Calvisius Caviar Oscietra Royal with large eggs and a deep brown/rich amber hue, slightly nutty flavors and a buttery richness. The sweet and fresh citrus and ripe strawberry fruit notes of the champagne balanced out the savory and slightly bitter undertones of the creamy caviar.
Finally, champagne works equally well with the sweet as with the savory. An array of Champagne Taittinger cuvees ranging from a Champagne Taittinger, Prestige Rose N.V., and Champagne Taittinger, Nocturne N.V., to Champagne Taittinger, Prelude Grands Crus N.V., and Champagne Taittinger, Nocturne Rose’ N.V., made great “digestifs” to go with a delicious assortment of Jacques Torres passion fruit, coconut, hazelnut and raspberry macarons, as well as his signature dark and milk chocolates and truffles. Jacques Torres also demonstrated that champagne was not just for drinking. Champagne Taittinger macarons are among his latest flavor creations.
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