Need some potent potables to mollify your family this Thanksgiving? Boston Wine School's Jonathon Alsop is on hand to help you properly pair wines with every course of your holiday dinner.
The first thing to know about picking a wine is knowing how not to pick a wine. That means, Alsop said, not taking the 100-point wine rating scale devised by Wine Spectator—and often displayed prominently at shops—as gospel.
"The number rating system for wine is a very complicated, very confusing thing," Alsop said, explaining that the system is not necessarily intuitive or straightforward for casual wine fans. A wine rated '85,' for example, is not an '85' compared to all wines, but to all wines within its price range or category or provenance.
So f you're not a sommelier or founder of a wine school—and, instead, say, a harried person running around the grocery store an hour before your family's dinner, throwing random bottles into your shopping cart—things can get a little intimidating.
Instead of going by the numbers, Alsop said a better way to think about choosing wines is to consider who will be drinking it and when.
"Instead of using scores, I would try to give better information about who this wine is right for, what kind of food this wine is right for, and what kind of mood or event this wine is right for," he said.
Like what, you may be asking? He offered this example: 'This is a 'Tuesday night, coming home from work late, eating a sandwich, standing over the sink' wine," he said.
In other words, a perfect bottle for after your family has vacated the premises.
So what are Alsop's picks for perfect Thanksgiving pairings? Open your mind to sweet wine, he advised. "This is a time for us to try sweets we don't usually try. I am challenging people to try sweet wine," he said. If you're up for the challenge, here's his pick:
And the best wine to pair with succulent, dark-meat turkey? Alsop recommended Esporao "Assobio" red from Portugal.
Hear more from Jonathon Alsop by tuning in to the audio link above.