Champagne wishes and caviar dreams

Feb 5, 2008 at 1:49 p.m. ET

Want to host a chic and sophisticated cocktail party without breaking the bank? Serving champagne and caviar will impress your guests and it can all be done for about $100.

Champagne and caviar are made for eachother

Champagne and caviarChampagne and caviar, one of the greatest combinations since peanut butter met jelly, is hardly as affordable and not nearly as approachable. But why forgo one of life's supreme pleasures because it is beyond your means or intimidating? Hosting a chichi cocktail party with champagne and caviar as the main attractions can in fact be inexpensive, simple, and will wow your guests.

Making the pair affordable

The main reason why champagne is typically expensive is because it produced exclusively in the Champagne region in France; all other bubbly drinks that are not produced in Champagne are labeled as "sparkling wines." Sparkling wines can be less expensive, and they are still just as sweet and effervescent. For your low-cost cocktail party, serve sparkling wines from other countries such as Italy, Austria, Spain, and even the United States. You can bill it as an "Around the World Champagne Party." Your guests will be so impressed with your "champagne" wit, they will not even realize they are not drinking true champagne.

The bubbly

Some of the best and most delicious sparkling wines will cost you anywhere from $9 to $22.


From Italy, serve Prosecco or Asti Spumante, both dry sweet sparkling wines. You can purchase a good bottle of Prosecco for only about $12 and a good bottle of Asti for about $9. Mionetto and Nando are two great brands. Don't let the cheap price defer you; these do not taste like cheap wines.


For a decent sparkling wine from Austria, try a sparkling Gruner Veltliner, a popular grape variety in Austria and the Czech Republic, though lesser known in the United States. This sparkling Austrian wine has a fruity light flavor and is comparable to a chardonnay. A bottle of Punkt Genau will set you back about $15.


For a trip to Spain, try the Marques de Gelida Cava. It is an ideal accompaniment to caviar. The price tag on this is a meager $13. Another Spanish variety to try is Llopart Leopardi Brut. It is extremely light and fresh and serves as a great palate cleanser. It is a bargain at about $22.


California also produces some fabulous sparkling wines. One of the best deals is the Mendocino County's Scharffenberger Brut. This wine has a hint of vanilla and plum and will only cost about $17. Domaine Carneros Brut, a Napa Valley wine, pairs especially well with caviar. It's a steal at $22.

The caviar nibbles

The "main course" for the night will be caviar, which can – but does not have to be – exorbitantly expensive. has varieties of caviar ranging in price from as low $7 to as much as $800. Domestic caviar will typically be cheaper -- but just as tasty – as compared to Russian or imported brands. Caviar does not have to purchased solely on the Internet, even your local supermarket or gourmet food store will have some inexpensive jars of caviar in the canned fish aisle.


Salmon roe and whitefish roe are two of the most reasonably priced and quality-tasting caviar. Beluga and osetra are the most expensive caviar on the market, so if you find a "too good to be true" deal on either of these varieties, it probably is too good to be true.


You should plan for each person eating about 10 grams of caviar. One ounce equals about 28 grams, so purchase accordingly.


A 200-gram tin of Russian Royal Black Roe runs at about $30, which can serve 20 people. A 100-gram tin of Capelin Roe will cost about $7 and serve 10 people.


Serve a combination of red and black caviar so that guests can sample different varieties. Partner the caviar with an assortment of crackers and enjoy the meldings of flavors heightened by your choice of bubbly.


A champagne and caviar themed party is a tantalizingly elegant twist to a usual get together. Even better, though you won't be breaking the bank, you can still act as though you are rich and famous!