Recently, a wine bar opened up in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. It's called Enoteca Adriano, and I've been eating there a lot because of the great pasta, intimate atmosphere, and of course, the great wine list. One of my favorite wines they offer also happens to be the least expensive on the list--the 2006 De Canal Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.
Abruzzo is an Italian wine-growing region east of Rome. Although they grow a variety of grapes, including Sangiovese, the most popular wine grape from the Abruzzo region is the Montepulciano grape. In order for a varietal to carry the name Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, it must be at least 85% Montepulciano, with the remainder Sangiovese. Its Riservas need to be aged at least 2 years before release, with 6 months of that time in wood barrels.
Montepulciano grapes are big, juicy, and produce good quality wines even when grown in large quantities--an unusual characteristic for a wine grape, and a special boon to the historically poor Abruzzo farmers. The wine it produces is a deep, rich color. Its tannins are mild and the wine is low in acidity, making it a soft, drinkable wine that pairs well with a variety of foods (making it a great choice for sharing).
The 2006 De Canal Montepulciano d'Abruzzo at Enoteca Adriano is $18. If you have trouble tracking it down online, try other Montepulcianos--most are reasonably priced, and many can be found for around $8. Pair with Pasta Bolognese or roast pork and enjoy!