Caviar is a dish beloved by cultures all over the world. From Italy to Iran, to America and the UK, several different types of caviars are popular globally. There are 10 types of caviar that are famous for their quality. This list will explore all of them. The first part of understanding what makes these caviar variants so special is to understand what caviar is, how it's harvested and why it's such a renowned treat.
Once you understand the cultural importance and appeal of caviar, the discussion of the best types of caviar will start to resonate with you. Let the journey of caviar from around the world begin.
What Is Caviar?
For those unfamiliar, caviar is unfertilized fish eggs, also referred to as fish roe, and is a high-end food enjoyed all over the world. Most types of caviar come from sturgeon, but other types, like beluga caviar, come from other fish. Caviar is a delicacy with various variants, tastes, textures, aftertastes and flavor notes. Much like wine-tasting, caviar-tasting involves experiencing the flavors and subtleties of caviars and pairing them with different drinks and meals to enhance the taste.
How Is Caviar Harvested?
The highest quality caviar is harvested from females as they prepare to spawn. Wild sturgeons are caught as they migrate from saltwater to freshwater tributaries, where they go to lay their eggs. Farmed sturgeons are monitored via ultrasound to determine when they are ready to spawn and when their eggs can be harvested. Millions of eggs can be harvested at a time from a single female based on the sturgeon's size.
Why Is Caviar So Popular?
Caviar is popular for a number of different reasons, all of which make caviar-tasting an engaging experience to partake in. Caviar is considered a delicacy for the following reasons:
- Rarity and value: Harvesting eggs from female sturgeons takes a lot of time, as they only produce eggs between seven to 20 years, depending on the species. Beluga caviar is even more difficult to obtain. Belugas take decades to reach maturity, and a female only produces eggs once every couple of years, making harvesting them a very rare occurrence. The rarity is part of what makes it so popular, as it is exclusive and a treat to find.
- Shelf life: Even the highest-quality caviar is only good for a few weeks. Its short shelf life and high value make it hard to find a reliable source making it a special treat when you can find it.
- Associations with prestige living: Caviar has a reputation for being a lavish treat and is closely associated with high living. This makes caviar desired for its flavor and social status. This is why events like caviar-tasting parties are considered such classy affairs.
Most Popular Caviars in the World
Now we can start looking at the 10 most popular caviars across the world, their qualities, what drinks they pair best with and which country they come from. Knowing caviar variants' differences will help you appreciate their unique qualities and attributes. These caviars range from saltwater sturgeon caviar to freshwater sturgeon caviar and other species.
Brescia caviar comes from the Province of Brescia in Italy. The caviar from this region is one of the most popular products produced in the entire area. Brescia caviar is so popular that the province has become Italy's center of caviar production. This caviar is considered Brescia's specialty. White sturgeon used to be the only species farmed there, but it has since started farming other species.
White sturgeon caviar is round, smooth, large and tender, with a complex and intense flavor. The flavor is mostly dominated by its fruity, nutty and briny notes.
The Brescia area is rich in fresh spring water, which gives Calvisius, the unique type of caviar from this area, its flavor. Acres of freshwater ponds are used for the breeding of white sturgeon in the region.
Many consider Franciacorta wine the best drink pairing for Brescia caviar. It is made with a typical blend of Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay and Pinot Nero and comes in vintage, nonvintage and Riserva forms. Franciacorta is a delicate wine with subtle notes of flowers, peaches and fruits that make it an excellent pairing with seafood dishes, including Brescia caviar.
Almas, which means diamond in Arabic, is the world's most expensive type of caviar. They are harvested from the albino beluga sturgeon (Huso huso) and are generally only harvested when they are between 60 and 100 years old. Albino beluga sturgeons are only found in the Southern Caspian Sea. What makes Almas caviar unique is the distinctive light cream color it has. The delicate, plump orbs have a creamy, buttery and briny flavor.
Almas caviar comes from Iran and is considered the pique of luxury delicacies due to how much it costs and how rare it is. Only limited quantities of Almas caviar can be harvested annually.
Almas caviar is best paired with Champagne and Jasnières. Jasnières is a golden-colored white wine from France made with Chenin Blanc grapes. The wine's minerality and freshness make it an excellent accompaniment for fish, seafood and briny flavors.
Sterlet caviar comes from sterlet sturgeons (Acipenser ruthenus) and comes from Russia. The sterlet sturgeons are native to the rivers that flow into the Caspian, Black, Baltic and Barents Seas and the Sea of Azov. Being one of the smallest sturgeon species and its fast maturation rate, Sterlet sturgeons are ideal for farming.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Sterlet sturgeons are a vulnerable species. This is why most Sterlet caviar now comes from farmed Sterlet sturgeons rather than wild ones. Sterlet roe is small with delicate eggs that vary in color from light to dark grey. Their flavor is mild, but it is subtle and sweet. This mild caviar is best served with buttered toast, potatoes or eggs. These will draw out the buttery and sweet nature of the flavor without overpowering the caviar.
This caviar pairs well with Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet, a French appellation famous for its Chardonnary-based white wines. This is a small region, so production is limited, making this a rare wine. If you can get a hold of both this wine and Sterlet caviar, you must try them together for a rare and worthwhile experience. The rich buttery nuance of the Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet and its notes of honey, dried fruits and spices elevate the flavors of Sterlet caviar to sensational new levels.
Kaluga caviar comes from a sturgeon of the same name. Kaluga (Husco dauricus) is a type of river sturgeon native to the Amur River basin in China. The beads of Kaluga caviar are large and firm and range in color from olive green to gray to brown.
Kaluga caviar is most typically enjoyed by itself and is best when served well-chilled. It does, however, pair nicely with blini, and crème fraiche. There is a hybrid species of Kaluga (Huso dauricus X Acipenser schrenkii), which also produces Kaluga caviar.
Siberian Sturgeon Caviar
Siberian sturgeon caviar is famous for its dark and glossy appearance. As the name implies, Siberian sturgeon caviar comes from Siberian sturgeon (Acipenser baerii). It lives in rivers, lakes and seas in the Siberian regions of Russia. The Siberian sturgeon is an endangered species on the IUCN's Red List. This means that Siberian sturgeon caviar comes from farm-raised sturgeons. The color of this caviar is commonly black but can also be dark brown.
Siberian sturgeon roe are medium-sized beads. This caviar has quite a variety of flavors and notes to it. Siberian sturgeon caviar is earthy, buttery, nutty with subtle notes of sweetness. Serving it well-chilled and on its own is common practice. It does pair well with simple dishes like crème fraiche and blini.
Chablis is a wine from Burgundy in northern France. It is entirely made with Chardonnay. Other Chardonnay wines are aged in oak, but Chablis is aged in stainless steel, giving it a different flavor. This wine's acidity and flint-like minerality make it pair incredibly well with creamy sauces, bass, cod, halibut and Siberian sturgeon caviar.
White Sturgeon Caviar
White sturgeon caviar comes from British Columbia in Canda. White sturgeons (Acipenser transmontanus) come from the western coast of North America. It lives in waters ranging from Baja California to the Gulf of Alaska. White sturgeon caviar is often compared to Ossetra caviar due to its glistening dark pearls that range from dark brown to black. The medium-sized beads are firm with a clean, crisp, buttery and nutty flavor.
This is the best caviar in the world from an environmental point of view because the production and sale of white sturgeon caviar are strictly regulated.
Like most caviar, this should be served well-chilled and pairs nicely with crème fraîche, creamy sauces, blinis and other seafood. Champagne and high-quality vodka are classic drinks to pair with White sturgeon caviar.
Hackleback caviar comes from the shovelnose or hackleback sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus). Native to North America, this sturgeon lives in the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. This type of sturgeon is the smallest species of sturgeon in all of North America.
Hackleback caviar has small, glistening beads that can vary from black to dark gray in color. The sweet and buttery flavor has a distinct nutty aftertaste. Shovelnose sturgeon mature quickly in the wild, making their caviar easier to harvest. For this reason, Hackleback caviar is less expensive than other sturgeon caviars.
Serve on ice with buttered toast, blini, potatoes, crème fraîche and sour cream for the best experience.
Osetra caviar is one of the most well-known caviar variants in the world. Also known as Ossetra, Oscietra and Aestra Caviar is highly regarded for its firm texture and delicious taste. This caviar comes from the Russian oestra sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii), native to the Black Sea, Caspian Sea and Sea of Azov and their river basins.
Ossetra caviar is characterized by its medium-sized eggs that range from dark brown to olive green. This caviar has a unique golden hue, elevating its visual appeal. The texture is firm, and its flavor is buttery and briny with distinctive nutty notes.
This caviar is delectable when served on its own but pairs brilliantly with creamy sauces, poultry and seafood and fish dishes.
Servuga caviar comes from the Starry sturgeon (Acipenser stellatus). While small in size, the crunchy beads of this caviar are brimming with salty and buttery flavors. They range from a light gray to black hue and should be served on pearl or wooden spoons.
Potatoes, bread and blini are mild-flavored foods that best bring forth the flavors of Servuga caviar. Pair this with high-quality vodka, Champagne and sparkling wines to enhance the taste. Sancerre and Chassagne-Montrachet blank are the best wine choices.
Beluga caviar is the most famous and well-known type of caviar in the world. Its extreme rarity and value are a reflection of its rich and bold flavors. It takes up to 25 years for a beluga to produce eggs, and since they are endangered, this caviar is illegal in many countries. It is illegal to sell or buy Beluga caviar in the U.S., but if you find yourself able to partake in it in another country, consider yourself fortunate.
This delicate yet tender caviar has buttery notes to it. The best way to experience Beluga caviar is by itself so you can explore the complex layer of flavors it brings to your palate. It can also pair with boiled potatoes, sour cream and blini pancakes.
Strong sanctions are enforced to limit the sale, production and trade of this type of caviar. Overfishing and poaching in the Caspian Sea are the cause of these restrictions to preserve the species.
Experience Caviar the Right Way With Imperia Caviar
Gaining access to premium caviar can be tricky, but Imperia Caviar always has stock of the finest caviar. You can find Royal Ossetra, Kaluga Hybrid and our limited edition Amur Caviar on our online store at any time.
Imperia Caviar knows what makes this delicacy such a special experience to enjoy and share with others. We use our knowledge to deliver the finest caviar at reasonable prices to make this treat accessible to a wider audience. If the caviar world fascinates you, we would love to share our ideas and passion with you. Browse our online store today to find a treat that speaks to you or find the perfect gift for a lover of the finer things in life.