Red Wine Basics: Barbera Wine

My first impression as I look into Barbera wine is that it isn’t the most highly prized among members of the wine community. It has a reputation as being an Italian table wine primarily sipped as an everyday companion to meals. One thing to be said for this wine, it pairs excellently with a large number of foods due to its high acidity and low level of tannins. Not the most flavorful, it can complement a large variety of foods without overwhelming them. Now for a few basics about Barbera wine…

Cluster of Barbera. Photo credit: Wikipedia
The Barbera grape variety is red and dark skinned. It is primarily grown in the Piedmont region of Italy, and has also gained a foothold in Australia, Argentina and in California, though sparingly. It is known to be very acidic, producing wine that is bright and tangy, very characteristic of Italian wines. The wine exhibits a slight berry flavor, usually cherry or blackberry. It is a medium to heavy bodied wine, ruby red in color.

At a young age, the wine is very bright and tastes of cherry, primarily. As the wine is aged, it exhibits a denser sour-cherry taste with hints of plum. The wine has never been overly popular, but is gaining momentum among members of the wine community as winemakers continue to improve growing and aging methods. It is often aged in oak barrels which balance its acidity and help contribute some tannic structure, as the wine is known for being low in tannin.

Straight Barbera wines are produced, though it is thought by many that Barbera blends are superior, as this highly acidic wine can be blended with a varietal higher in tannin to produce a more balanced, flavorful wine.

The typical bottle of Barbera wine can cost anywhere from $10 to way out of my price range! Critics and lovers alike claim that a good bottle of Barbera doesn’t have to be expensive and that $13 can get you a very decent compliment to your meal. 

Best Food Pairings:
  •  Pizza
  •  Pasta
  • Grilled Poultry
  •  Meats
  • Prosciutto
  • Anything with Tomato Sauce
I haven't been able to locate a bottle to try for myself yet. If any of you readers have an opinion, feel free to share. I plan to keep my eye out for a bottle to taste test. This wraps up my research on Barbera wine. Join me next time for a discussion about Gamay, a grape variety grown in France.

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Louise Bryant

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