What is Montepulciano wine? A Wonderful Red Wine from Abruzzo, Italy

Montepulciano is a red wine grape grown widely in central Italy, most notably its eastern Abruzzo, Marche and Molise regions. It is globally appreciated wine for its soft flavors, gentle tannins and strong color pigments.

By Lucie Robson
May 25, 2022
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Montepulciano Wine (grapes) in 30 seconds

  • Montepulciano is a black grape producing deeply-colored, dry red wines.
  • It also makes rosés.
  • Its main production region is Abruzzo followed by Puglia.
  • It also grows in Campania, Lazio, Marche, and Molise.
  • Montepulciano produces wines with red and black fruit, sweet spice, and herbaceous notes.
  • Wines have a medium to full body.
  • Montepulciano has medium to high tannins and low to medium acidity.
  • Styles range from early drinking to complex.
  • It appears in mono-varietal wines and blends.
  • Abv level is 11.5% to 13.5%.
  • It appears across around 30 DOCs and DOCGs.
  • It’s one of Italy’s best-loved wines at home and internationally.
Italian vineyard in Abruzzo. The wine is Montepulciano D`Abruzzo_2022010110


What is Montepulciano wine?

Montepulciano is a rustic black grape grown widely across central Italy. It produces super-popular, food-friendly red wines in early-drinking, mature, and rosé styles.


Learn about Montepulciano  

First things first: Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo is not to be confused with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, the premium wine from Tuscany made from Sangiovese. While Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo is often blended with Sangiovese, the only other point they have in common is the name.


As well as the dry reds Montepuliciano makes, it’s also the main grape in the bright, lighter, fruity, rosé Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo.

Montepulciano grows extensively across central Italy and is one of the country’s most-planted cultivars. Small plantings grow in Argentina, the US, Australia, and New Zealand.



What does Montepulciano wine taste like?




Montepulciano displays distinct aromas and flavors of tart cherry, red plum, Mediterranean herbs, baking spices, and even tar. Wines are medium to full-bodied with medium to high tannins and low to medium acidity. As rosé, Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo has a lighter body.

This grape is a great cultivar for blends and it goes especially well with Sangiovese. It also appears as a varietal wine.


What sort of wine is Montepulciano?

This grape makes light to full-bodied dry, red and rosé wines depending on the style. Most are destined for early drinking but there is also a Riserva style that’s been aged for at least two years.


What does Montepulciano pair well with?

Montepulciano wines appear in light to full-bodied fruity-forward styles. Balanced acidity, tannins, and aromas/ flavors make these wines a match made in heaven with a range of cuisine. Although it typically has low acidity, Montepulciano pairs well with many tomato-based dishes.



Food Pairing: Medium to full-bodied Montepulciano and Riserva Food Pairing


  • Italian cold cuts
  • black olives
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • basil pesto bread bites


  • Hamburgers;
  • Osso Buco;
  • tomato-rich pasta dishes
  • vegetarian or meat lasagna
  • Bolognese
  • pizza
  • amatriciana
  • grilled sausages
  • meat stew
  • roast chicken
  • grilled vegetables;
  • cottage pie;
  • sagnee e fagioli.


Food Pairing: Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo (Rosé)

  • Appetizers:
  • Prosciutto;
  • green olives.



  • Parmigiano-Reggiano.
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Top Montepulciano Appellations/ Areas

Montepulciano appears around 30 appellations. Some top examples include

  • Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG, Terre Tollesi / Tullum DOCG, Colline Teramane Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOCG, and Cònero DOCG.
  • Docs include Abruzzo, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, Colli Romagna Centrale DOC, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC, and Velletri.

Where Montepulciano comes from?

The Montepulciano variety’s roots in Abruzzo are lost in the mists of time but it acquired its modern-day name in the 1600s.  The ancient Greek historian Polybius waxed lyrical about a grape that appeared to have the qualities of Montepulciano but whether or not it was the said variety is just speculation! This grape has another claim to fame on the literary front. 

Prominent Abruzzo aristocrat, writer, orator, and military man, Gabriele d’Annunzio referred to its wine in his works. Montepulciano is a late ripening variety which accounts for its relatively low acidity.



Wines Made With Montepulciano Grapes

  • Appellation regulations dictate that Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC has to be composed of at least 85% of the grape. Sangiovese can make up the remaining 15%. Wines undergo aging for a minimum of five months prior to release.
  • Riserva wines age for two years before entering the market with nine months in wooden barrels obligatory.
  • Subzone DOCs can have even more stringent requirements regarding the quantity of Montepulciano in any blend, higher abv rules, and longer maturation.
  • Early drinking styles are vinified with the aim of protecting the fruit flavors while expressions destined for aging undergo oak treatment.
  • Rosé Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo is made through a short maceration on skins for light color extraction.
Bottles of Italian wine on display and for sale, Masciarelli, Rome October_20221010


What kind of wine is similar to Montepulciano?

  • Crianza Rioja, Spain.
  • Bardolino, Italy.
  • Merlot, Chile.

Interesting facts about Montepulciano

  • Montepulciano is also known as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Violone.
  • Montepulciano is also a township in Tuscany where Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is made.
  • The wine has had its own appellation since 1968.

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