This delicious red wine is a familiar sight in the Italian section of many wine stores, and I’d forgotten just how good it is until I tasted it again recently.

It’s hard to miss it: Cantina Zaccagnini’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Tralcetto” is the one with the little twig tied to the bottle with a piece of straw. I imagine there’s a story behind this flourish based on some tradition. But in a practical sense, it’s certainly a lot easier to remember “the wine with the twig on the bottle” than a relatively long and complicated Italian name.

Zaccagnini’s 2017 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo demonstrates the quality and value that can be found in the Abruzzo region of central Italy, where Montepulciano is the primary red grape. There are plenty of examples for under $10, and at that price you get wines that are decent if not exciting: Zaccagnini’s Montepulciano, with an average price of $16 according to Wine-Searcher, elevates the experience to a higher level of complexity.

Get the latest in beer, wine, and cocktail culture sent straight to your inbox.

Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ‘Tralcetto’ 2017, Abruzzo, Italy

First, there’s the fruity flavor: juicy blackberry and blueberry notes supported by great underlying acidity. Beyond that, there are touches of black licorice, balsamic, dark chocolate, herbs, and white pepper, all of it in a medium-bodied wine with relatively soft tannins and alcohol at 13 percent.

As for food pairings: Pastas with red sauce? Of course. Sausage and broccoli rabe? Perfect. Grilled meats? You bet.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo doesn’t get the same attention and acclaim as more familiar Italian reds from such well-known regions as Tuscany, Piedmont, and Sicily. For now, the denomination is flying under the radar, which may be why Montepulciano d’Abruzzo can be such a good value — and why Zaccagnini’s wine could easily become one of your go-to Italian reds.

Find This Wine Near You