Montepulciano is a fairly ubiquitous Italian grape that makes easy drinking and delicious red wines for everyday use. It is a late-ripening grape that makes wines that are generally big in fruit, low in acid and go very well with any tomato based sauces, stews or grilled meats. An indigenous varietal, it is second only to Sangiovese in terms geographic spread. Abruzzo lies just south of the Marche on the east coast of Italy. Apparently, Thomas Jefferson had a fondness for Montepulciano as well, though I'm getting the idea that there weren't many wines that he didn't like. This user-friendly $9.99 version from Masciarelli, a top producer in the zone, is one of my favorites year in and year out and the bold and fruity '07s can still be found on the shelf. The aromas of this Montepulciano present classic smoky cherry scents along with earth and a note of licorice. Big, mouth-filling baked cherry flavors and bright, balancing acidity make this beauty an excellent choice for Friday night pasta. Cheers!