The Christiane Chronicles: Stop swirling your Champagne, you idiot

Plus: Caviar is an elegant treat you should get at Buford Highway Farmers Market
Christiane Chronicles

Illustration by Zohar Lazar

Buzz Killers
Swirling a glass of wine with a flick of the wrist can tell you a lot about what you’re drinking. The movement oxygenates the wine, releasing some volatile compounds that interfere with its true aroma. Raising the wine to eye level to look at its “legs” (the tears descending inside the glass) gives you an idea of its viscosity and alcohol strength. But the sight of anyone performing these acts with a glass of bubbly makes me hysterical.

So you like to smash bubbles?

You want to kill something that is alive?!?!?

Champagnes and other sparkling wines are fragile! Swirl them and they’ll go flat, which means you lose the aromatics that the bubbles are meant to deliver. So keep your flute, if that’s what you use, steady. (Some prefer a wine glass.) Admire the sight of those dancing little pockets of air making their way to the surface of your liquid. Your nose will be tickled when you bring the glass to your lips.

And you won’t look like an idiot.

Christiane Chronicles Caviar

Photograph by Dayne Franci

Relishing Roe
One of the reasons I love holiday parties is that some people go all out and, if I am lucky, blow their budgets on a few tins of good caviar. I am a fiend for salt-cured sturgeon eggs—the only product that can be labeled simply “caviar” without specifying the fish.

Eating a dollop of caviar on a tiny pancake smeared with sour cream is an elegant treat, for sure, but the best (some say the only) way to understand caviar is to eat it straight out of the tin with a non-reactive spoon, preferably mother of pearl, but plastic or wood will do.

The beluga sturgeon has become an endangered species, so its caviar is no longer exported from its native Russia, Iran, or Kazakhstan. But never fear! The Buford Highway Farmers Market can order farm-raised osetra and sevruga, whose eggs are smaller than beluga, but—especially if packed anywhere near the Caspian Sea—have the sublime saltiness and oiliness I crave. And if you look in the refrigerated smoked fish section adjacent to the market’s Eastern European aisles, you will find more than adequate substitutes: pike roe from Russia, mellow bowfin and white fish from Alaska, and a peerless selection of red caviar—salted salmon eggs—some of which come from as far as Sakhalin, a Russian island in the Pacific Ocean famed for its fishing.

This article originally appeared in our December 2017 issue.