Montepulciano Wine: What Is It?

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Montepulciano grapes are round, thick-skinned berries that primarily grow in Central Italy. It is the popular choice of grape used to make superior-class wines in Italy. The grape is often confused with the Sangiovese, which also grows in the Tuscan region of Montepulciano.

As a promising variety of grapes, Montepulciano can produce large yields to produce the best-tasting red wine in Italy. With moderately low acidity and milder tannins, you can enjoy smooth, succulent wines from it.

Montepulciano Wine Regions

Believe it or not, Montepulciano grapes are not grown in the town where it got its name. The fruit likely originated from Tuscany, like the Sangiovese grapes. A native to Italian soil, Montepulciano is the recommended grape for making DOC labeled red wines.

Here is a quick list of Montepulciano wine regions recognized with DOC labels:

  • Molise is a region in Southern Italy that houses the Biferno River. Along the banks of this river comes out the Biferno Montepulciano red and rose wine blends. The wine mixture must have between 60 to 70 percent Montepulciano grapes and minimum alcohol content of 10.5 percent.
  • Marche is an eastern Italian region between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea. Its capital province Ancona produces wines with at least 85 to 100% Montepulciano grapes in the farmlands along the Conero River.
  • San Severo is a city in Southern Italy that produces red and roses wines with at least 70% Montepulciano grapes blended with 30% Sangiovese. They also make pure Montepulciano grape wines.
  • Tarquinia is an Italian heritage city in the province of Viterbo, Lazio region in Central Italy. Along with the ancient Etruscan tombs, the city shows off its DOC labeled Montepulciano wines.
  • Abruzzi (or Abruzzo) is the largest producer of Montepulciano in all of Italy. It sits on the east coast of South-Central Italy along the Adriatic Sea. The region splits into four provinces, all known to produce the highest quantity of Montepulciano grapes.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is one of the most notable Italian red wines made with Montepulciano grapes. A vast area in the Abruzzo region of Southern Italy makes this delicious red wine. You will find Montepulciano grapes growing in all four Abruzzo provinces.

Chieti is one of the four Abruzzo provinces. It produced the highest quantity of high-quality wines since the time of the Ancient Romans. Vinum Hadrianum is a famous Italian red wine produced in the countryside of Atri. It is also where the first bottle of Montepulciano wine was labeled.

Montepulciano Wine Labels

Montepulciano grapes make different types of wines. They all adhere to Italian wine laws for quality. Here are the three most popular Montepulciano wine labels you’ll likely come across:

  • Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC – an original Italian red wine made in the Abruzzo region in east-Central Italy, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo has received the highest quality label for Italian wines. It contains a blend of at least 85% Montepulciano grapes and 15% Sangiovese.
  • Riserva – an Italian label for wines aged at least two years or longer, Montepulciano wine labeled Riserva is aged at least three years. Aging takes place in oak barrels at six months.
  • Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo – a bright, cherry-red Montepulciano wine, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is 100% Montepulciano grape. It has the aroma of orange peel, cinnamon, strawberry, and dried cherries.
  • Colline Teramane – This is a highly controlled quality of Montepulciano wine made in the vineyards of Terramo Hills. It follows similar regulations as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. However, its blend must have at least 90% Montepulciano grapes and not more than 10% Sangiovese.

Most often, Montepulciano wine is a dry wine. So you will get a slightly bitter, rustic flavor. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo has deep-red color and a spicy, earthy aroma.

Flavors of Montepulciano Wine

Imagine drinking dark black tea without any milk or sugar. That could be the taste of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. It’s a potent blend of authentic Italian red wine.

Every bottle of Montepulciano wine has a unique flavor. You may taste wild cherries, blackberry, or plum. It may also have an aroma or taste of tobacco, thyme, oregano, or some other spice.

Oak-aged Montepulciano wines have more pronounced fruit flavors. It also contains more tannins giving it a rich, red color. It also comes with notes of chocolate, clove, and other peppery spices.

Montepulciano Wine Standards

Vintage is a critical step in making Montepulciano wine or any wine in Italy. If there is a perfect glass for every type of wine, there is also the best time for harvesting grapes. Italian wine laws limit the quantity for harvesting grapes to a yield of no more than 14 tonnes per hectare. Winemakers consider the sugar, acid, and tannin levels to determine if the grapes are ripe for harvest.

Italians are keen on the quality of their wines. The DOC standard for making Montepulciano d’Abruzzo must be at least 85% Montepulciano with up to 15% Sangiovese. Its alcohol level must not go beyond 12%, and the wine aged at least five months before release.

Montepulciano wines labeled Riserva are slightly higher in alcohol content at 12.5 %. They are also aged quite longer. They get seasoned for at least two years with a minimum of nine months in wood barrels.

Best Way to Enjoy Montepulciano Wine

Drinking red wine at room temperature is not ideal for Montepulciano. Warm liquor will taste rough and bitter. You will best enjoy Montepulciano wine when it is cold. You can have it chilled for 30 minutes to an hour in the fridge.

Drink It Cold

A bottle of Montepulciano wine will taste better if it is 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit cold. The coldest temperature in this range works well for younger wines aged 2 to 3 years. Enjoy the warmer temperature for older, high-quality varieties of the Montepulciano red wine.

Some wine experts suggest that you decant the wine for about half an hour before serving. Decanting the wine releases aromas, softens the tannins, and enhances the flavor of the wine. That gives you a more delightful wine-drinking experience.

Eat Some Food

Montepulciano wine is tannic and highly acidic. It would be great with some savory meat dishes. You can enjoy it with beef bolognese or a brisket. Some also fancy it with sausage or pepperoni pizza.

Here is a quick list of foods you can enjoy with Montepulciano Abruzzo:

  • meatloaf, hamburger, barbecue
  • dishes with rich tomato-based or cheese sauce
  • fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel
  • hearty vegetables like mushrooms and winter squash
  • baked potatoes, beets, beans, and roasted tomatoes

It doesn’t have to be fatty gourmet dishes. You can also relish a glass of Montepulciano wine with some desserts. Cherry, blackberry, or boysenberry crumble can bring out the fruity notes of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Dark chocolate works pretty well with Montepulciano Reserva.

Use the Right Glass

You don’t always need a wine glass to drink wine. You may enjoy your Montepulciano wine in just about any drinking vessel that you choose. You can use a dixie cup, coffee mug, or a mason jar. You can even drink it straight from the bottle.

But some researchers say wine glasses work better than any regular drinking glass. There is a perfect glass for every type of wine. The right glass improves the taste of wine. Montepulciano wine tastes better when poured into a red wine glass.

It’s all about soothing the bitterness of tannin or the spicy flavors of the red wine. Red wine glasses with wider mouths give more room for the wine to breathe and release the sharp aroma to enhance its flavor. Montepulciano wines are highly aromatic and tannic red wines.

Finding Real Montepulciano Wine

Montepulciano is an authentic Italian red wine. It may be difficult to say its name, but a nice glass of Montepulciano can give a delightful wine experience. You may enjoy it sweet or a little bit rustic and savory rough.

There are several varieties of Montepulciano wine. You can hardly finish your bottle when a new brand comes out in the market. They all have great, exciting flavors. You would probably want to taste each of them.

You’ll know it’s legitimate Montepulciano wine by looking at the label. Italians have a robust system of protecting the quality of their wines. DOC stands for Denominazione di origine controllata which means controlled designation of origin. Montepulciano wines must meet the quality standards of the region to receive the quality label.

You don’t have to go to Italy to taste Montepulciano wine. Other countries like Australia, Mexico, and New Zealand grow Montepulciano grapes. In the United States, California, North Carolina, and Texas produce these Italian berries. They can make great Montepulciano wine out of these vineyards.

But, if you want to get the taste of genuine Montepulciano wine from Italy, you might as well check the label on the bottle. You can’t get that Italian seal on your red wine bottle if your products don’t pass their Italian quality standards. Winemakers are like scientists. They all have different ways to make exceptional red wine. There is a unique flavor in every bottle of your Montepulciano wine. You can’t compare pure Italian red wine with any other wine.

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