Barbera is a red Italian wine that is the third most planted grape in the entire country, and it’s almost one thousand years older than Cabernet Sauvignon. Yet until recently Barbera was very rarely seen on the American market. Why? The Italians were saving Barbera for themselves!
Barbera was born in the northern Italian region of Piedmont, the same region famous for the Nebbiolo grape and the coveted Barolo and Barbaresco wines that grape produces. Many from this region refer to Barbera as “the people’s wine” because unlike Nebbiolo, which even when it’s not being used in Barolo and Barbaresco is still only saved for special occasions, Barbera is an every-day affordable stunner.
The wine, while very dark in color, is actually quite light in taste. Barbera has flavors of cherries, strawberries and raspberries, and when young can have intense aromas of blackberries as well.
Barbera is very low in mouth-drying tannins and high in acidity, which makes it the perfect wine to pair with rich foods like cheeses, meats and earthy mushrooms. One of our favorite flavor combinations for this wine is a rich and earthy mushroom pizza drenched in truffle oil. The acidity in the wine just cuts straight through all the flavors and is the perfect complement to the rich and comforting dish.
For the best example of what quality Barbera should taste like, grab a bottle of Barbera from the town of Asti in the region of Piedmont. This town has been producing great affordable Barbera for centuries. Look for the name Barbera D’Asti (Barbera of Asti) on the label.
Barbera isn’t just for the Italians anymore.