Guide to Barbera Wine


March 14, 2013 Blog » Learn About Wine » Guide to Barbera Wine

Barbera: The Wine Italy Never Talks About

Barbera has long filled-in the low slopes and valleys of Northern Italy. It’s considered a lesser wine to Nebbiolo and, therefore, doesn’t earn the best grape-growing real estate (such as South-facing slopes on hills above the ‘nebbia’ or fog). Despite its lowly position, Barbera is the quintessential ‘wine of the people,’ it’s meant to be enjoyed young –and it’s cheap!
 
Discover this unique little grape and never again feel like you have to revert to ‘Chianti’ when looking for a great valued Italian wine.
 

Guide to Barbera Wine

The Color of Barbera in a Glass

Barbera Wine Profile

FRUIT: Dark Cherry, Dried Strawberry, Plum, Blackberry
OTHER: Violet, Lavender, Dried Leaves, Incense, Vanilla, Nutmeg, Anise
OAK: Yes. Large neutral oak casks.
TANNIN: Low
ACIDITY: High
AGEABILITY: Traditionally enjoyed within 2-4 years.
SYNONYMS & REGIONAL NAMES:
Barbare, Barbera d’Alba, Barbera d’Aosta, Barbera Sarda, Barbera d’Asti, Barbera del Monferrato

Barbera Wine Regions

62,900 acres worldwide (25,454 hectares)

  • Italy (52,600 acres) Alba, Aosta, Asti, Monferrato, Puglia, Sardinia
  • United States (~7,000 acres) Sierra Foothills, Central Valley, Santa Barbara
  • Australia (~2,000 acres) Mudgee, McClaren Vale, Adelaide Hills
  • Argentina (~1,300 acres) San Juan, Mendoza

 

The Taste of Barbera Wine

Mish-Mash Flavor Somehow Barbera wine tastes both rich and light-bodied. Why is that? Well, one reason is that it has dark staining pigments that dye the wine to near-black. However, the taste of Barbera has notes of strawberry and sour cherry: flavors synonymous with light-bodied wines. Light tannin and high acidity make it taste ‘Juicy’. Most of the Barbera you’ll find is from Italy which leans towards more herbaceous flavors, you can see the differences below.
Barbera wine compared to other red wines
 

  • wine descriptions for new world barbera wine
     
    New World Barbera

    Looking for a New World Barbera? Check out
    Palmina Barbera from Santa Barbara $20

  • wine descriptions for old world barbera wine
     
    Old World Barbera

    Looking for a Old World Barbera? Check out
    Pelissero Barbera d’Alba Piani 2009 $25


Barbera Food Pairing

ras el hanout morrocan spice blend lavender crusted roast lamb chop scallops and fennel risotto
 
Vegetarian Italian Asparagus Feast Roasted Turnips and Beef tajarin pasta piemonte food barbera wine regional pairing
Complementary Pairing
Wines and foods that are single-noted can be made whole when put together. With Barbera wines try rich dark meats, mushrooms, herbs, herbaceous cheeses like blue cheese, higher tannin foods like root vegetables & braised greens. The idea here is that the bright acidity in the wine will make a rich fatty or high tannin dish complete.
Congruent Pairing
Match the flavors within Barbera to make them stand out. Try sour cherry, sage, anise, cinnamon, white pepper, nutmeg, citrus and the Morrocan spice blend called Ras el Hanout.
Regional Pairing
Monferrato’s regional dishes include: tajarin pasta, Guinea fowl and porcini stew and carne all’albese (a Piemontese version of steak tartare with parmesan, olive oil and rocket) The tajarin pasta is pictured above with shaved truffles.

6 basics to making perfect pairings

Wine Pairing Logic

There is a science to making perfect pairings. Discover the logic behind the three styles of wine and food pairing in
6 Basic Flavors To Making Perfect Pairings


Monferrato Northern Italy Wine Country Piedmont

The rolling hills of Monferrato, Barbera’s homeland. credit

5 Things About Barbera That Will Surprise You

1000 years older than Cabernet Sauvignon?
Ampholographers suspect the origin of Barbera goes as far back as the 7th century. Compare that to the more popular Cabernet Sauvignon that has only been around since the 17th century.
Wrought With Scandal!
In 1986, Time reported a scandal. Eight Italians were found dead and 30 more were hospitalized after drinking Odore Barbera. This media alert quickly unravelled the scary truth about illegal wine additives all over Europe in the 1980’s.
Bubbly Barbera–Only in Italy
The Colli Piacentini DOC in Emilia-Romagna Northern Italy have several lightly sparkling Barberas that have a simliar freshness to Lambrusco or Beaujolais. They are very rare outside of Italy.
Smaller Clusters Make Better Barbera
Barbera is a very vigorous grape variety that can produce high yields (up to 5 tons/acre) and grows well in sandy soils. The best Barberas, however, tend to be from well-pruned vineyards and smaller grape clusters.
More Oak?
There is a move to spend a little more money on oak aging wine. This technique is commonly practiced in Amador and Sierra Foothills in California. Barbera wines from this area verge on jammy with rich vanilla and spice flavors.

Yeah! Show me where!Want to find great cheap Italian wine?

Sources
Wine statistics: Guildsomm.com winesofargentina wineinstitute wikipedia
Food photos: tarajin pasta, turnips & roasted meat, vegetarian Italian feast Scallops and fennel risotto, Lavendar Lamb, Ras El Hanout Morrocan Spice Blend
Wine Scandal in Time Magazine


SUBSCRIBE TO GET FRESH WEEKLY WINE STORIES
Do you like this post?


By Madeline Puckette
I'm a certified wine geek with a passion for meeting people, travel, and delicious food. You often find me crawling around dank cellars or frolicking through vineyards.