With its remarkable ability to turn any gathering into a celebration, caviar is traditionally served with one of two classic libations: vodka or Champagne.
A venerable Russian tradition, the pairing of vodka and caviar is customary throughout the world of gastronomy. Like wine and cheese, they are the ideal complements to one another. Served ice cold, vodka has a subtle flavor that allows the distinctive taste of caviar to prevail.
Choose a high-quality traditional brand and make sure it is well chilled, at least four hours or as long as overnight. (Vodka can be stored indefinitely in the freezer; it will not freeze but does become syrupy.) Serve vodka straight, in chilled tumblers or vodka glasses, or over ice, if desired.
Daniel Boulud, executive chef of New York City's heralded Restaurant Daniel, sometimes serves lemon-flavored vodkas with his caviar. Another option is to swirl a freshly cut strip of lemon zest in a glass of quality vodka. The refreshing citrus flavor complements the caviars saltiness without overpowering it.
The savory saltiness of caviar finds another perfect counterpoint in the clean, crisp flavor of Champagne, preferably a dry, yeasty one with undertones of citrus flavor. And when serving these great epicurean pleasures, by all means invest in a set of fine glass flutes and a wine bucket to keep the bottle chilled.
If you are serving caviar with a meal, chef Boulud recommends a dry white wine as a substitute for Champagne. Good choices include a crisp white Burgundy, such as Chablis, Pouilly-Fuissé or an austere New World Chardonnay. Any rich, oaky wine would only mask the delicate flavor of caviar.