Wine Dharma

DharMag August 2013 Pairing the Montepulciano

Guide to the Italian food and wine pairing. Tagliatelle, ragu and Montepulciano! Tagliatelle and ragu are delicious with a bold, juicy Montepulciano! When it comes to pairings, the Montepulciano is an absolute protagonist, possibly one of the most pliable vine species in the world. Its strengths lie in the optimal acidity and the refined symphony of spices, all supported by a resolute tannin that rarely upsets the mouth. Having a good body, it can stand being refined for years in barrels, which makes the flavors of fresh fruit give way to richer spicy notes: the wine becomes rounder and further develops, granting finer traits.


Montepulciano loves lamb and goatling, mountain meat that brings out the wild flavor of the wine and words well with the red fruits. The nirvana is reached when the Montepulciano is paired with mutton skewers, kebab, souvlaki. Even better if the meat is marinated or flavored with herbs like sage, basil, rosemary, thyme, marjoram: in this case a rustic Montepulciano is ideal, thanks to its similar balsamic notes.


A noble lasagna made with truffles and Marsala; lasagna with meatballs; more generally, all kinds of fresh pasta for which Abruzzo is famous. What we need to take into account in this case is the high acidity, which allows the Montepulciano to contrast any sauce with an acidic base, such as those based on tomato.

Grilled meat

It never fails, better if paired with fuller-bodied, oak-aged wines: their alcohol content and the fruity notes will find good matches in smoked meats or elaborate barbecues such as Texan ones. For extraordinary results, try them with spare ribs in a pistachio crust.

Bolognese sauce & pasta

Montepulciano is the perfect wine for spaghetti bolognese. Take a look to our traditional bolognese sauce recipe

Beef tenderloin with reductions

New wines are great accompaniments for sauces based on balsamic vinegar or lime, but also sweet ones, based on sour cherries, blackberries or plums and apples.

Rich dishes

Game pies, braised meats, elaborate recipes with wild, spicy notes, porcini- or truffle-based dishes are perfect with more aged Montepulciano and combine perfectly with its earthy tones. Ossobuco alla milanese (Milanese marrowbone) has no more perfect companion than a Montepulciano: acidity to contrast the fat, and crunchy fruits to enhance raisins, spices and pine nuts. A soft tannin prepares the mouth to the next bite.

Korean marinades

Do you want to discover how to pair food with Montepulciano wine, read our guide Keep a bottle of Montepulciano in your cellar for casual food like pizza, hamburgers, tacos and chicken Garlic, sesame, ginger, nashi juice, honey and soy sauce seem to have been invented to marry a Montepulciano. But don’t forget anything from Turkish or Greek cooking: pita gyros with tzatziki and moussaka above all.

Venetian liver

A perfect mix of the sweetness of the meat and the stewed onions.

Schnitzels with blackberry jam

Fried foods with acidic tones, such as wings in lime and ginger glaze.

Orange duck or Peking duck roast

The citrus flavor and the sharp sweetness of the meat melt with the marvelously fruity taste of the wine.

Fatty fish, such as swordfish or salmon

The ultimate pairing is with the swordfish alla messinese, which alternates the vivid savoriness of the dish and the wine. A young, fragrant wine with iodine notes will do the job—the Emidio Pepe is a must.

All spices

Especially the sweet ones. There’s in intriguing fine link between this wine and curry. There are infinite possible pairings to be found in Thai and Indian cuisines. One warning: don’t overdo with the spiciness, to avoid taking the alcohol to a boiling. Apotheosis with a lamb curry.


Excellent combination with risotto or cotoletta (Schnitzel) alla milanese, whose fatty notes are diluted by the wine, which also enhance their sweet nuances. A Colombian paella falls in the same category, other risotti, creams and polenta with mushrooms are better suited for wines of a certain age.

Aged cheeses

From a classic Pecorino d’Abruzzo to a Talamello—a Marche cheese with flavors of underbrush and truffles. As the rule goes, the more aged the cheese, the more aged the wine should be. The Montepulciano performs eminently with marbled cheeses, whose spicy notes are softened by the wine’s notes of caramelized fruit.

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