Montepulciano d’Abruzzo- bang for the buck!

18 01 2009

Trying to get by in NYC is hard. Trying to enjoy the good life in NYC on a budget is kind of like Big Daddy Kane said,  ” like a pimp trying to pull a nun, ain’t nothin happenin.” Well, maybe that’s a bit harsh, perhaps it’s more like Jay-Z put it: “hard livin mixed with Cristal sippin.”

With this in mind, it helps to know a thing or two about wine in order to avoid breaking the bank. This does not necessarily mean swirling wine around in a glass, making strange noises and saying things like “oaky” and “barnyard.” Rather, I try to keep a couple grapes or blends that I like in mind & look for em on a menu & then ordering the second cheapest bottle. In fact, this “second cheapest” trick is used by so many people I’ve wonder if restaurants swap the first & second when writing up wine lists. Anyhoo, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo has rarely done me wrong.

This love affair began back in college when a friend put me on to Citra which we affectionately referred to as “Shitra.” We used to buy it by the magnum at a store near his house for $6 and let me tell ya, it blows ol’ Carlo Rossi out of the water.


Citra could kick Carlo Rossi's ass in a street fight

The only problem is a little “good bottle, bad bottle” phenomenon we noticed. It’s not that we got corked bottles, it’s just that some bottles are just better than others. Now I’m not touting Citra, I’m just saying if you’re choosing between this and Nighttrain, there’s no contest. But perhaps, the most important thing to note about Citra is IT’LL GET YOU DRUNK!

It\’ll get you drunk!

As time has passed, what I’ve noticed about Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is that, Citra not withstanding, there are some very good ones out there and they pack some major bang for the buck. I’m not sure if it’s that Abruzzo has only recently come into its own as a respected wine producing region in Italy or what, but they also seem to have recently become much more popular since I’ve started seeing them on menus everywhere. In restaurants where the average bottle goes for $50 you can often find a nice Montepulciano for $20-$25 and not be disappointed. It’s light, on the dry side but with a nice subtle fruitiness and it pairs well with food.

But what’s really great about this wine is if you buy a bottle at one of the places I mentioned here there is many a bargain to be had. Just this week I got a great bottle at TJ’s for I believe $5.99.

Organic so it's good for you!

Organic so it's good for you!

I was initially drawn to the “made from organic grapes” claim since sometimes sulfites make nose itch like crazy (I’ve been known to claw at my red nose while out on the town- not a pretty picture). But in retrospect I realize now that all because the grapes are organic doesn’t mean that sulfites weren’t added. Well, c’est la vie. My nose was fine in any case. And what a nice bottle! It was light, tasty and went down smooth (maybe too smooth . . .). We drank this with Korean food and surprisingly the wine was not too overwhelmed. Since organic wines usually set you back a minimum of $10 this was really a nice find. Perfect for personal consumption and to share with friends that aren’t snooty about price tags (or don’t know any better since this could pass for a much more expensive bottle). So, if the opportunity arises, holla at my boy Tommy! Tell him Maya sent you!




2 responses

18 01 2009

Word…from what I understand restaurant managers are totally on to the “2nd cheapest” – shouldn’t let it sway you – often the cheapest is just as good or better. I have had a hard time finding a Montepulciano I love so I will definitely give Tommy a shout.

18 01 2009

Any wine that can be nicknamed shitra seems right up my alley!

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