Yana Volfson has given New Yorkers a reason to trade in their margaritas for wine. When she signed on to run the beverage program at Chef Enrique Olvera’s Cosme, pairing wine with Mexican fare was still largely uncharted territory, and she’s been able to taste her way to some surprising discoveries.
“If you think about the specific qualities of mezcal and tequila that make them obvious pairings for Mexican flavors, you can start to find overlying themes and wines that share those same traits,” says Volfson. “So, look to terroirs that produce smoky flavors – volcanic soils… schist… Acidity and salinity are also big factors; you want something that can cut through sweet creams, Oaxacan cheese, and avocados – the number one source of fat in Mexican food!”
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The best part of her job? Experimentation. “When we first opened, I would overhear diners asking each other, ‘Are we even supposed to be thinking about wine with this food?’” she says. “Hearing that made me want to hit the table and taste them on all of these bottles to show them how so many different wines can be wonderful with Mexican cuisine. It almost became like a game.”