Ali Yakich · Deuxave
Jen Fields · Alden & Harlow
Olivia Moravec · UNI
Curious about restaurant wine lists? Each month, Boston Globe wine columnist Ellen Bhang chats with a sommelier about a couple of terrific bottles and recommends food pairings – you come away a savvier sipper.
Ali Yakich discovered her career path early in life, and is thrilled to recount where the journey has taken her.
“I never had that special bottle that got me into wine,” shares the sommelier and assistant general manager of Deuxave. “But my dad and mom loved wine and dinner parties.” She vividly recalls how her father would emerge from the cellar with a rare pour and regale guests with the bottle’s backstory. “Everyone was always enthralled, amazed by that piece of history,” she says. “I realized that I could make a living doing that.”
Knowing that her vocation would require skills beyond storytelling, the Colorado native studied hospitality at Iowa State University, then traveled to Australia to attend the International College of Management, Sydney. All the while, she deepened her knowledge of wine. She moved to Texas to work at Four Seasons Hotel Austin, and eventually relocated for a job at the Boston location. Now at Deuxave, a beloved Back Bay destination for fine dining, Yakich directs a world-class wine program encompassing 600 bins (that’s industry-speak for individual wines). “We have a large French selection, but also amazing South African and Australian wines,” she says. “It’s very balanced on every end.”
Step inside the restaurant, warmed by a cozy fireplace, and you’ll see the somm in her element. Since joining the team earlier this year, Yakich has made what she calls “beautiful changes” to the list. That includes increasing the number of bottles at the modest end of the price spectrum. Diners can still splurge on a Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grand Cru for a cool $3,000, but they can also peruse an array of delicious selections starting at $50.
One of those affordable options is a 2015 Château Pégau “Cuvée Lône” Côtes du Rhône Blanc. Wine-savvy guests know the domaine—helmed by a father-daughter winemaking team—for its excellent Châteauneuf-du-Pape. They are always curious to taste the white blend, crafted from mostly clairette and bourboulenc grapes. “It’s so zesty and citrusy at the beginning of the palate, but then you find a smoky, limestony finish,” Yakich says. The wine’s acidity and creamy mouthfeel, she continues, complement chef-owner Christopher Coombs’ grilled Berkshire pork chop, drizzled with pomegranate chorizo vinaigrette, and plated on pink peppercorn jam. “The food makes the wine better, and the wine makes the food better,” she enthuses.
The wine pro is also keen on Burgundy appellations with less-than-immediate name recognition. A terrific example is a 2013 Domaine Bryczek “Clos Solon” Morey-Saint-Denis, crafted by a third-generation winemaker whose ancestral roots reach back to Poland. “It’s special and so unique,” she shares. “It has ‘oomph’ and structure. It’s bolder than some other Burgundies.” The pinot noir’s dark fruit, which she describes as “brooding and mysterious,” pairs seamlessly with a Long Island duck breast, with poached pears and chestnut purée, nestled on a ragout of mushrooms, cabbage, and seared foie gras. She loves to watch as the festive pairing works its magic at the table.
“This time of year, people come back together for family reunions,” she says. “To be a part of that memory is special. It’s why I’m in hospitality.”