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Montepulciano d'Abruzzo or Vino Nobile di Montepulciano?

Why is Italy's Abruzzo's best grape called Montepulciano, the exact same name of a town nearly 200 miles away in a different region?

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano are made from entirely different grapes from different regions. So, how to keep them straight?

Consider their literal translations when looking at their labels:

  • Montepulciano d'Abruzzo means Montepulciano from Abruzzo. Montepulciano d'Abruzzois made from the Montepulciano grape and tends to be more mellow and easy going than its relation in Tuscany.
  • Vino Nobile di Montepulciano means Noble Wine from Montepulciano. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is made from the Sangiovese grape so its flavor profile is much closer to the highly touted Brunello than a Montepulciano from Abruzzo.

The one named after the grape is far more common. If you order a Montepulciano by the glass in a restaurant, that's what you'll probably get. The other, named for a famous hilltop town in Tuscany, is a much more serious wine.

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