Montepulciano Food & Wine
Olive oil produced from centuries-old olive trees, distinctive for its exquisite olive-green color, is a specialty product and one that embellishes almost every dish. Montepulciano's typical cuisine, which draws on traditional dishes like pici, a pasta formed into thin threads and served with a savory garlic and tomato sauce, bear witness to its Etruscan, medieval and baroque past. Wheat and maize flour, bread, oil, beans, milk, and good wine are the principle ingredients that make the simple country recipes typical of the region.
Bread is the basis of dishes like panzanella, once a peasant meal made of stale bread tossed dressed with olive oil, onion, basil, and mint, while ribollita uses slices of bread to soak up the juices of this hearty bean soup.
Other local specialties offer classic tastes of ancient foods that have stood the test of time, grilled eggplant, chestnut linguine with ricotta cheese, roast lamb with rosemary and garlic, Florentine arista (pork with rosemary, fennel, sage, and rosemary) and pecorino di pienza al tartufo (aged cheese with truffles) are examples.
Desserts are simple and often tied to the towns noble wines and celebrations like cantucci biscuits with almonds, excellent for dipping in Vin Santo, Il Castagnaccio and Ciaccia dei Morti, seasonal sweets for November celebrations and I Crogetti, a traditional sweet served during Carnival time.
Wine is the most famous product of the land around Montepulciano where wine cellars dug into the ground under the town remains an attraction to visitors. The quality of the soil on the hilly slopes and the drying breezes from the sea combine with the industrious nature of local wine-growers to produce wines that have played a significant role in the town's economy.
Noted in 1549 as "the most perfect wine" by the pope's head cellar man, Montepulciano wines have continued to earn praise for their excellent quality through the centuries. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is, perhaps the most prestigious, has a proud history dating back the 17th century, when this local wine was declared "noble" because it was a favorite of noblemen.
Most of the wine is made from the grape, Prugnolo Gentile, a local clone of Sangiovese. Rosso di Montepulciano is a DOC wine from the same territory as Vino Nobile, but the wine can age as little as five months before release from the winery. Vin Santo di Montepulciano, a gold or amber dessert wine, is the most famous and sought-after Vin Santo in all of Toscana.