What the heck is Montay-pool-chee-ano anyways and how do you pronounce it?! Ha ha.
I remember when I began learning about wine, I walked into the Italian section of a wine store, and stared blindly. When a clerk would ask if I needed help, I would politely decline and say I was just looking at the moment. Ha ha, who just “looks” at wine?! I would stare at the shelves and wonder if that word was the grape or the town or…. well I just had no idea!
But that all changed once I began studying wine. And Italy IS one of the hardest countries to learn, because you need to know what grapes are grown in a region to know what the wine is on the shelf…those Italians don’t make picking up wine very easy! 😉 Today, I can navigate this region and for the most part I know what to expect out of the grape and know what grape the wine is produced from. Small yay for me!
So let’s talk about this Montepulciano (pronounced Montay-pool-chee-ano) d’Abruzzo red wine, shall we? This one was found at a grocery store on a recent trip to Chicago. It was around $11.99 usd. Cantina Zaccagnini 2012.
First of all, Montepulciano is the grape and d’Abruzzo is the region. Located east of Rome in central Italy. It’s most commonly found in this region however it is grown in other central and southern regions of Italy. Don’t be confused with a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano though – as this one is made up of about 70% Sangiovese NOT Montepulciano.
What you should expect from this grape in general: it’s medium body, approachable, fruit driven with structure, tannin and good acidity. Remember a good rule of thumb is almost all Italian wine has good acidity, it’s a tell-tale sign it’s Italian.
Now although this region is known for cheap and plush wines, don’t let that fool you, you’ll still really enjoy a Montepulciano! If you drink Pinot Noir, Merlot, Sangiovese, Syrah or even Cabernet Sauvignon, I guarantee you’ll find this wine enjoyable. It offers notes of ripe fruits, with a hint of earth, leather and minerals. It’s medium body with a smooth mouthfeel giving it that plush like characteristic, and the tannins are there to give it some structure, which will draw you in (I promise). I tested this wine on a Cabernet lover, and well…he liked it!
So… go out and buy a cheap Montepulciano (and don’t be afraid to ask for a little direction in the store ;), or buy one that’s a bit more money, test them, see which one you like better. And if you want to add food, pair it with a dish from that region.
Viva Italia! And discover more good wine!