Burger wine. Pizza wine. What next, KFC wine? It's coincidence, honest.
The Montepulciano grape grows almost everywhere in Central Italy (except, of course, in the town of Montepulciano, where Sangiovese is the predominant grape). The ones we like best are from the Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC, where the wines are soft and fresh and meant to be drunk young.
Every producer in the DOC owes something to the late Gianni Masciarelli, who more or less single-handedly introduced the Abruzzo region to quality winemaking.
Fortunately, others are following Masciarelli's path, and Antonio Constantini is among them. His winery in Città Sant'Angelo is at the northern end of the DOC, not far from the coastal city of Pescara. The family has been in business since 1910, but Constantini is no traditionalist—his facility is up-to-date with controlled-temperature fermentation in stainless tanks. Recently, he brought in oenologist Riccardo Brighingna, who has done award-winning work for Cantino Tollo. The grapes are picked by hand. There is some extended maceration to pick up color and tannins. The wine is aged in steel for four months before bottling. Constantini also makes Cerasuolo and a white wine from the Pecorino grape, which we'd dearly love to try some day.
Constantini "Febe" DOC Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2010: This opens with notes of red cherry and just a bit of spice; on the palate, red and black cherry fruit in a framework of unobtrusive tannins. A very gulpable wine, and well-suited to the Chef's white pizza. And the red sauced one, for that matter. The propaganda says serve this at 65° F, but we liked it best at about 50° F; the chill firmed up the fruit and improved the mouthfeel. Besides, it's been so humid lately in our neighborhood...At $11.99 (Asheville Wine Market) this is a pretty good value, and its food-friendliness makes it a credible candidate for house wine status. It is certainly our new favorite pizza wine.
PS: We are not fans of the Colonel, but we do think if you're eating fried chicken, the only appropriate beverage is a nice Gruner Veltliner. As Eberhard Heide at the Wine Market likes to point out, Gruner is made by the same people who invented schnitzel, so of course it's going to be great with fried foods.