Upon returning to the United States, I tried a variety of budget Italian wines in hopes of finding something similar to the house wines I drank in Italy. My favorite of the bunch is Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. It's a simple red sold in rather large bottles, usually for under $10. Smooth without being too heavy, it easily brings to mind those table wines found in great trattorias.
Apparently, I'm not the only fan. The Wall Street Journal had this to say about Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo in an article they did about jug wines:
We really enjoy this wine, which was a favorite in a tasting of jug reds several years ago and also in a broad, blind tasting of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (which is a great bet in general, by the way). It has a dark color that looks rich and serious, with some minerals on the nose. The taste is blackberries and blueberries, with good tannins and some body. Too many jug reds seem heavy to us, with unidentifiable tastes and plenty of creamy, vanilla wood stuff. Summer is an uncomplicated time and we like uncomplicated wines that taste like fresh fruit—and this one does. But its extra depth means it’s perfect with a rare burger off the grill or a big, thick steak.
Give this Italian red a try. You certainly can afford to.