Barbera: The Wine of the People

Barbera: The Wine of the People

Last week we suggested you try some new wines this fall. One of them, was a big tannic Barolo.

And we also mentioned that, in Italy, Barolo has been known as “king of the wines, wine of the kings,” which can often translate into a higher price tag.

Enter the Barbera wine, a.k.a. the “wine of the people.”

And we, the people, know that means it’s a great value.

Barbera grapes are grown in Piedmont, Italy, in the northwest part of the country, which is generally associated with the the Nebbiolo grape and its wines — like Barolo and Barbaresco.

Those wines have a ton of tannins and often take time to age. But you know the Italians, they’re not going to sit around and wait for wine. They need something to drink with dinner tonight!

And Barbera is perfect.

It’s one of the most widely planted grapes in Italy.  But it may fool you. Those grapes create a dark red wine, close to a Syrah even. But the taste and aromas are lighter – more ripe fruit like strawberry, cherry and maybe even some spice.

Barbera wines have great structure, and while they’re perfect for right now (yes, that means tonight), they have ageability as well.

A quick note on the label: Barbera grown in Piedmont might actually mention the local district on the label. So for instance, Barbera d’Alba is from the hillsides of the Alba region and Barbera d'Asti is from the area around the town of Asti. And both wines must be at least 85% Barbera.

These days, though, you can find Barbera grapes almost anywhere — from Australia to Argentina — to even Santa Barbara.

Another great perk of the Barbera wine is that it has tons of acidity. So that means you can pour it with your bowl of pasta, slice of pizza or cup of chilli.

Better yet, make a plate of pecorino and fresh mozzarella cheeses.

If that doesn’t take you back to Piedmont, we don’t know what will.

Three Barberas to Try
Pio Cesare Barbera d’Alba 2013, Piedmont, Italy, $20
Classic Barbera. Ripe fruit and spice, well-balanced acidity.

Villa Sparina Barbera del Monferrato 2013, Piedmont, Italy, $21
Aromas of dried cherry. Full to medium body, bright acidity.

Massolino Barbera d'Alba 2013, Piedmont, Italy, $23
Lively raspberry and cassis, crisp, spicy with a long finish.

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