Meet the Grape: If Montepulciano’s got one thing going for it, it’s location. The red grape is mainly grown in the Abruzzo region of Italy, where vines cling to mountain slopes and meander down to the sparkling coastline of the Adriatic. It’s a stunning picture, but practically speaking, the warm days and cool nights (thanks to maritime breezes) have proved ideal climactic conditions for the grape. Montepulciano is medium-bodied and dry with dense black cherry flavors punctuated by herbs.
Southwhatever: I kid you not, I came across a “Southwestern” menu in the city offering Mile High Cheese Fries, Hoisin Chicken Salad and Cheetohs. Hmm. To me, Southwestern is more like grilled cuts of meat, Tabasco-spiked chili and sizzling fajitas. Montepulciano’s juicy, peppery characteristics match the cuisine and truthfully, this wine is better with food. Remember that Italians expect to eat with wine, so they make their wines accordingly.
One Under Ten: The 2004 Valle Reale “Vigne Nuove” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo for $9.95 is exploding with cherry fruit after being aged in stainless steel.