Black Diamond Caviar
A new adventure
For the first time since its creation in 2011, Pleasure Wine is taking a quick break from wines and spirits to offer you a brand new experience!
As you all probably know, the notion of prestige is something that is deeply rooted in our philosophy. It is something that defines our relationship with you, our customers. For you, we have been looking for the finest wines, the best vintages, the greatest wine regions and the most prestigious of winemakers. Because we believe that you deserve nothing less. Each wine, liquor or spirits gets checked and approved before it can be featured in our catalogue, and we would never sell you something we are not 100% satisfied with. Keeping that promise in mind, and after months of reflection and internal discussions, we've chosen to start a whole new adventure with you.
Which is why, starting today, you will find a new product in our shop. A product that encapsulates what class and prestige really are. A product that we're sure will thoroughly please every Pleasure Wine customer: Black Diamond Caviar!
This caviar is made from sturgeon eggs, raised in captivity by some of the best producers in the world (France, Italy, Poland, China, Iran...) An incredible food, symbolizing what haute cuisine truly means. And, because Pleasure Wine likes to go one step further, we have 10 different types of caviars for you, available right now on our website! Beluga, Baerii, Kaluga, Sevruga... All of them in 50g tin boxes.
The Black Diamond caviar can be kept up to 6 months in the fridge (between -4°C and 4°C, the ideal temperature would be 2°C). Once opened, please consume within 3-4 days. Do not put caviar in the freezer, as fish eggs have a tendency to explode when you unfreeze them. To taste this caviar, use a spoon made of inert materials, such as a mother-of-pearl spoon, instead of a metal one. Metal may give the caviar an undesirable flavor.
History of caviar
You're not very familiar with caviar? No problem: let's go on a little trip through its history. Nobody actually knows when sturgeon eggs have really started to be used as food, but they have been mentioned by Aristotle (384-322 BC), for the very first time in written history. Persians were also very keen on caviar and used to eat it in purée form, according to some texts from the 9th century. They considered the protein-rich fish eggs to be a kind of super-food, able to boost your endurance and cure a lot of different ailments.
During this period, the current term "caviar" was invented. It came from "khavyar" in Turkish, or "chav-jar" in Persian. Caviar's reputation as a luxury food became a thing in Russia, in the 19th century. These little eggs were all the rage with the czars and their courts back then, thus their popularity (as well as their price) skyrocketed. Czar Alexis I even declared caviar to be an imperial property in 1675, cementing the food's prestigious status. The same scenario was happening in France at the time. Jean-Baptiste Colbert, then Louis XIV's minister, was even in charge of sturgeon fisheries close to the Garonne river.
Fun fact: while caviar was turning into a royal food in Europe, sturgeons were breeding like crazy in American rivers. There were so numerous that the new world's inhabitants were treating it as a regular type of food, like beef! The fish population was so huge it seemed limitless, making the USA the biggest producers of caviar during the 19th century. Unfortunately, as demand started to rise, constant fishing nearly eradicated all the sturgeon species. In 1900, they were considered to be extinct. As a result, the little eggs became quite rare and their prices went through the roof.
Caviar in France
During the 1920's, Russian migrants fleeing the Bolshevik revolution arrived in Paris. The French were familiar with caviar (or "cavyaire", as they called it) since 1432, but these newcomers helped them rediscover it. The tiny black marbles became the new symbol of prestige in the artistic world. Caviar started popping up in some of the greatest restaurants in Paris and Europe. Many people profited from the trend, like Emile Prunier for example. He bought some fishing companies in the Gironde department and started selling his own 100% French caviar, made from Acipenser Sturio eggs. He even offered a 24 hours food delivery service in Paris, which was quite novel! Another big player at the time was the Petrossian House, founded by two caviar-loving Armenian brothers: Melkoum and Mouchegh Petrossian.
Europe became the place to be for caviar, at least for consumers. We shouldn't forget about Iran, which also fished in the Caspian Sea, just like the Russians. At the end of WWII, the Shah of Iran fully entered the black gold business and increased his exports to Europe. The Iranians had a big ace up their sleeve: they were the only ones able to produce the Almas (the Russian word for "diamond") caviar, made from the eggs of the extremely rare Albino Beluga. It is one of the most expensive caviars in the world, going for 25,000 € per kilo. Which means one single spoonful would cost 40 €!
The Iranians had an other conception of what caviar should be. Russians salt the eggs (the caviar is then stored in barrels, buried in the ground to keep them cool), whereas the Iranians prefered a much sweeter caviar, which went well with champagne. Obviously, the glamorous Paris elite loved the idea! To achieve that taste, instead of salt, the Iranians used borax (also called "boric acid") found in the soil around the Caspian Sea.
In 1991, the game was over, so to speak. The USSR collapsed and the soviets weren't able to control the Caspian Sea's caviar production anymore. Armed militias started to seize fishing plants everywhere and black markets came into play. Armed conflicts became more frequent, and many different local mafias developed, attracted by the black gold. In the 1990's, for 1 ton of fish caught legally, 12 tons were caught illegally! Europe literally drowned in smuggled sturgeon eggs and the caviar economy was completely deregulated. It was so bad the UN had to intervene: enters the CITES.
In an effort to prevent smuggling, extinction of sturgeon species and pollution, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES for short), established in 1973 in Geneva, came up with a plan. Export quotas were imposed, as well as obligatory tagging, to control the origin of products. It worked but unfortunately, once caviar became rarer, the demand for it simply exploded. That's why, after years wasted trying to fight against new developing traffics, the CITES brought a new measure to the table in 2006: sturgeons could no longer be fished, they had to be bred.
The result? 150 tons of caviar produced each year by fish in captivity. The worst was avoided, fish populations started going up again and smuggling had almost entirely stopped: the CITES had won! Many European countries now went into the caviar business, investing massively in fish breeding equipment. It's very difficult to raise sturgeon, though. The famous Beluga, for example, is a cannibalistic fish. You can't have it near another fish species, nor can you keep multiple Belugas together in the same body of water! Moreover, sturgeons only lay eggs every 8-10 years, which feels like an eternity!
Nowadays, caviar brands have multiplied and the taste has improved (the eggs from fish raised in captivity used to have a pronounced taste of silt). The next big chapter in caviar history is now being written in China, which owns many gigantic fish farms on the banks of the Amur River. Thanks to their impressive output, the Chinese could very soon be able to make half of the caviar found in the world! In comparison, the sturgeons found in the Caspian Sea only lay 10 tons of eggs per year (it was 1000 tons 20 years ago). As for France, it produces 19 tons of these little black marbles every year.