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A Feast for the Senses: Savoring the Luxury of Fine Caviar and Wine

Published: December 13, 2023
Sturia caviar, with its exquisite taste and artisanal French heritage, offers a luxurious glimpse into the world of gourmet delicacies. (Image: Manos Angelakis)

There’s a unique joy in sharing culinary delights, especially when it involves baguette slices adorned with authentic caviar, complemented by a glass of effervescent wine — be it Champagne, Prosecco, or Cava — while surrounded by friends and loved ones. This holiday season, thanks to Sturia, a renowned French caviar producer, I had the pleasure of indulging in this very experience alongside my dearest companion and wife of 54 years.

Reflecting on the tumultuous history of caviar, the 1990s saw significant overfishing — leading to a pause in wild caviar production from 2007 until the end of 2010 across Russia and several Caspian Sea bordering countries. This hiatus was crucial for replenishing wild stocks.

Sturgeon, a historically overfished species, is commonly sought after for its prized roe, which is processed into caviar. (Image: Manos Angelakis)

In 2009, the United Nations imposed a ban on five countries, including Russia and Iran, from international caviar trade due to their failure to establish fishing quotas. This period witnessed rampant smuggling of Caspian and Black Sea caviar. The ban was eventually lifted in late 2010 after the countries agreed on stringent quotas. Consequently, there’s been a global surge in efforts to farm sturgeon caviar, while the prices for wild variants have skyrocketed.

Today, wild caught Ossetra caviar from a famed retailer fetches up to $160 for a 30-gram tin, and a Manhattan department store prices a similar product at $123 per ounce. Likewise, a well-known importer offers a 1 oz. jar of wild caught Beluga caviar for $175. For caviar connoisseurs, a 1 kilo tin of genuine Ossetra starts over $5,000, and Beluga can exceed $10,000.

Beluga caviar, renowned for its exquisite flavor and rarity, is among the most expensive and sought-after delicacies in the world. Beluga caviar can exceed $10,000 for a 2 pound tin. (Image: Manos Angelakis)

Historically, “caviar” specifically refers to salt-cured roe from wild sturgeon, a species that has remained unchanged for over 100 million years, akin to living dinosaurs. In countries with lenient labeling laws, the term “caviar” is often used loosely for roe from various fish species, but these lack the distinctive flavor of true sturgeon roe.

A culinary delight

The caviar market has expanded with many importers and sellers offering sustainably farmed products. However, the taste of some farmed variants can be underwhelming. I have sampled farmed caviars from Germany, the U.S., Turkey, Russia, Kazakhstan, Italy, and China. While they often resemble Beluga, Ossetra, or Sevruga in appearance, some possess a metallic aftertaste or are excessively salty.

Recently, I discovered Sturia, a French farmed caviar that remarkably mirrors the taste of wild sturgeon roe. Sturia, from Caviar Sturia of Bordeaux, offers different varieties including Acipencer Baerii, Acipencer Gueldenstaedtii, and Huso Huso, the source of Beluga caviar. Their Vintage and Oscietra samples, which my wife and I tasted in 50-gram tins, are competitively priced.

We enjoyed the caviar on fresh baguette rounds with sweet butter, occasionally adding a squeeze of lemon, using mother-of-pearl utensils from Hawaii. The Vintage, a dark grey and mild variant, transformed with a few drops of lemon juice, closely resembling wild-caught pressed Caspian caviar. The Oscietra, slightly saltier, boasted a nutty, buttery flavor, characteristic of aged quality caviar.

Sturia caviar is available in the U.S. through Kaviar USA, with four distributors and two direct-sale shops: Frenchery in San Francisco and PW Cellar in Louisiana. In Europe, they partner with gourmet food importers and distribute to restaurants in Germany, Belgium, Scotland, Spain, Greece, Italy, the Nordic countries, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. In Asia, they collaborate with various gourmet distributors and directly engage with restaurants in countries without distributors.

Our caviar tasting was an exquisite experience, made complete with sparkling Prosecco. For more information, visit

Cheers to your health and to a joyous holiday season ahead!