In the realm of $10-and-under wines, Masciarelli’s 2017 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is near the top of the list. This delicious, estate-bottled red from the Abruzzo region of central Italy could be your new go-to wine for pasta night, burgers on the grill, or even more substantial meat dishes. In fact, it’s so versatile that it could easily serve as your house red.
With an average price of about $10 (and available for $8 or $9 at many stores), it’s also the kind of wine you can buy by the case to have around for when an occasion calls for a bottle of better-than-basic Italian red.
For me, that was the other night, when I tossed some leftover tomato sauce with penne in a cast-iron skillet, topped it with some chopped-up mozzarella cheese, then put it under the broiler for a few minutes to give it a crisp, slightly charred finish. As I served it, I sprinkled some crushed red pepper flakes to give it a little heat.
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Weekday leftovers don’t get much better than this, and the Masciarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo was just the right match. I served it moderately chilled, knowing from my tasting and analysis that it would not lose much of its character after 20 or 30 minutes in the fridge. It turned out to be just the refreshing counterpoint I had hoped for.
I have tasted other vintages of this wine but was struck by the relative complexity of this one, which is marked by a good deal of earthiness and just enough tannic structure to make it interesting. That’s on top of a nice fruity character with dark- and red-berry notes, a hint of black licorice, and an acidity that keeps it bright and lively. This wine was aged in stainless steel, which also contributes to its freshness.
If you’re not familiar with it, the grape here is Montepulciano, which is Abruzzo’s signature red variety — not to be confused with the town of Montepulciano in Tuscany, where the Sangiovese grape is the main variety in the wine known as Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Masciarelli’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is also available in magnums for when we all start entertaining again — the larger size might be a good idea, considering how easy this wine goes down.