Barbera – Italian red wine
Whilst originally from the Piedmont region, Barbera grape has long been grown in other Northern regions of Italy such as Lombardy and Emilia Romagna, proving to be an adaptable and resistant variety, and ensuring great popularity to the wine. Evidence of the production of Barbera wine has been found dating back to the 13th century. For a long time this grape has been outshined by its neighbour Nebbiolo, which is the base for some of Italy’s most qualitative wines, such as Barolo and Barbaresco. More recently Barbera found a renown of its own and it’s now widely appreciated. Barbera wines are more commonly monovarietal, but blends with Freisa, Grignolino or Dolcetto up to 10% are permitted in the case of Barbera d’Asti, and with Nebbiolo up to 15% for Barbera d’Alba.
What are the different styles of Barbera wine?
In terms of appellations, the Barbera grape is used to produce Barbera del Monferrato DOC wines and both Barbera d’Asti and Barbera d’Alba DOCG wines. It is not uncommon for the former to be lightly sparkling, or frizzante, whereas the latter two can be differentiated in terms of their ageing process: Barbera d’Alba wines are rigorously aged in wood barrels, whereas Barbera d’Asti wine on the may have undergone fermentation in steel, large wooden botti (big barrels) or smaller barrels. Barbera d’Asti Superiore needs to spend at least 6 months in wood however, but it can be 4 in the case of Barbera d’Alba Superiore. If you’re looking for somewhere to start your Barbera tastings, the well-established Michele Chiarlo winery produces a number of Barbera d’Asti and Barbera d’Asti Superiore wines; for Barbera d’Alba, try wines from La Bioca, Mirafiore or Marchesi di Barolo.
What are the characteristics of Barbera wines?
A funny feature of Barbera wines is that, if you’d never tasted it before, you would hardly guess the feel in your mouth by looking at the glass. In fact, Barbera wines tend to be very dark and intense – almost black – in the glass, however, upon drinking, they are quite light-bodied in the mouth – rich, but not overwhelming. These are juicy wines which commonly present aromas of red berry fruits and prunes, with light strawberry flavours and even lavender, violet or nutmeg. Depending on whether the wine has been oaked, notes of wood, liquorice and pepper may also be present.
What foods pair with Barbera wines?
Barbera is the perfect wine for a dinner with friends; it pairs well with informal food such as pizza and pasta recipes. Lighter and frizzante versions such as those from the Braida estate are ideal with appetisers with cured meats and cold cuts; while more aged Barberas go perfectly with roast meats. You might be surprised, but Barbera is actually a good match for fish, as well, especially cod fillet, or a richer fish such as swordfish. Thanks to its fresh and fruity profile, Barbera wine will never overwhelm these dishes, it will enhance them instead, despite being a red wine.
Take your pick from our delicious selection – or maybe choose a few and host a tasting with your friends.
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