Monday, February 27, 2012

Why Do Caviar Tins Have Rubber Bands?

Almost all classical and most modern caviar tins have rubber bands which surround the seems of the metal tin packaging. The rubber bands, often red in color, have traditionally been used for caviar packaging to ensure a hermetic (air-tight) seal around the caviar. This would then ensure that the precious caviar contained within would not be exposed to the air which would drastically diminish its quality, taste and ultimately self-life.

Additionally, the color of the rubber bands were used to signify the species of the caviar. Since the term caviar was traditionally reserved for varieties naturally occurring in the Caspian Sea, this limited the varieties to three: Beluga, Ossetra, and Sevruga.

Beluga was signified with a BLUE rubber band,

Ossetra was marked with a YELLOW rubber band, and

Sevruga was noted with a RED rubber band.

Today however, these colors are seldom used to signify the type of species - Proper textual labeling has replaced this rudimentary style of labeling as there are now well over 25 different types of "caviar" sold throughout the world.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Prosecco and Caviar

What is Prosecco?
Prosecco is an Italian sparkling wine traditionally made from Glera grapes in the Northern (Veneto) region of Italy. Prosecco is known for its dryness as it has relatively low sugar content - Depending on sugar content (measured by grams per litre of residual sugar) prosecco is classified as "Brut", "Dry" and "Extra Dry".

Why are we talking about Prosecco? 
Because not only does it taste outlandishly fantastic, it is a perfect companion to caviar. Traditionally Champagne has been used when pairing sparkling wines with caviar. However in recent years, the cost of Champagne has equaled and in some cases surpassed that of caviar. Prosecco offers a rather perfect solution as it maintains the dryness of Champagne, which is necessary to appease the palate when paired with caviar, while maintaining relatively inexpensive.

Difference between Prosecco and Champagne?
Unlike Champagne, Prosecco is produced by a method called "Charmat". In the Charmat method, secondary fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks, making prosecco easier and less expensive to produce. Conversely, Champagne continues to ferment in the bottle and will continue to mature with age. Prosecco usually does not need a prolonged "bottling" period and over an extended in bottle maturation will degrade and grow stale. Thus younger Proseccos are generally more sought after as opposed to more aged Champagnes.

Aside from coming from different areas (Italy & France), Prosecco comes from the "Glera" grape, which is a variety of grape natively found in norther Italy - traditionally in an area near Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, in the hills just north of the city of Treviso.

Champagne is produced from pinot noir and chardonnay grapes - Only those champagnes grown in the Champagne region (in central France) can be called Champagne.

Lastly, price - A decent bottle of Prosecco in the United States will be anywhere between $8.00 and $35.00. Champagne on the other hand is much more expensive, with proper bottles ranging from $50.00 to $1,500.00 +. Again this has mainly to due with the fermentation and maturation process.

What is the Best Type of Prosecco? 

Col Vetoraz Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Millesimato Dry 2010.
---The best prosecco we have tasted. We sampled multiple selections in Veneto and at VinITALY in 2011, the Col Vetoraz Dry was decidedly the highest grade prosecco we had come across. Rather difficult to find in the States, we do have a handful of bottles we brought back with us of the Millesimato dry. If you can find it here, buy it - enjoy. Buy it again!
---Priced around $20.00.

---Besides the Millesimato Dry, you can also try their conventional prosecco which is a bit more readily available from a handful of wine stores on the east cost - Click here for wine-searcher info.

Alice Prosecco Extra-Dry 2010.
---An exceedingly dry and subtle prosecco that pairs extremely well with caviar. Le Vigne Di Alice is an all woman operation that produces high grade prosecco from the Valdobiaddine and Conegliano. The Charmat process is used with fermentation occurring in roughly 45 days. Excellent as an aperitif. Not commonly found in your local wine-shop unfortunately. We recently purchased some from DrinkUpNY, click for the link.
---Priced at $18.00.

La Marca Prosecco, 2010.
---Readily available in most wine and spirit stores, including giant BevMo. Although the quality is above most other proseccos, it really does not come close to Col Vetoraz or Alice. We would suggest the two above, however if you are unable to obtain those, La Marca would be the best alternative.
---Priced at $16.00.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Atlantic Sturgeon Placed on Endangered Species List

Earlier this month, the National Marine Fisheries Service placed the Atlantic sturgeon on its Endangered Species list.

A little background - Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhynchus) is one of 26 species of sturgeon found on earth. It is native to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States, and uses rivers such as the Mississippi and gulf deltas for spawning. They can grow to 15 feet long, 850 pounds, and can survive upwards of 100 years.

Atlantic sturgeon were commonly caught in the 18th and 19th century for their meat and for their caviar. However, over-fishing caused their numbers to drop dramatically and a moratorium was enacted on all fishing of Atlantic sturgeon about 20 years ago.

So what is the significance of making them an Endangered Species now?

As Professor Ellen Pikitch, who runs the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University explains, placing them on the endangered list not only prevents fishing of the species, but prohibits activities such as navigation dredging or coastal/delta development that could effect Atlantic sturgeon.

Thus placing them on the list gives them further protection in hopes that their numbers can rebound and populations can be replenished along the Atlantic coast of the US.