The Piedmont region of Italy is most famous for both Barolo and Barbaresco. And it’s no wonder as these are two powerful (and expensive) wines. However, Piedmont is all about balance, and the region has created two wonderful counterparts, being Barbera and Dolcetto.
What Food Goes with Barbera
Barbera is a straightforward, juicy and light (to medium) weight red that is very versatile due to its lack of tannin, and its acidic bite. Fruity and tangy, Barbera has a plummy richness with a rustic Italian charm. Spaghetti with meatballs, veal, chicken marsala, bbq ribs, risotto, lasagna, minestrone soup, mushroom based dishes and feta cheese are delicious with this red wine. The acidity in Barbera also makes it a wonderful pairing with Charcuterie!
It should be noted however, that Barbera is an experimental red in some cases. This means there is very little consistency at the moment in this red. So before buying this red for a party, be certain to try the bottle first, or ask a wine merchant about it’s profile.
Types of Barbera
Barbera accounts for approximately 50% of all red grapes planted in Piedmont. Even with its specific DOC zones, which are Barbera d’Asti, Barbera d’Alba, and Barbera del Monferrato, Barbera tends to vary widely. One bottle may be a charmingly rustic cherry scented wine, whilst another bottle from the same region could be more rich and silky smooth. A lot of this is due to changing winemaking practices, as well how Barbera has adapted to the soil and climate. For example, Barbera of modern times is much bigger than Barbera of the past as it’s commonly grown on south facing sites. This change in planting has given Barbera its densely concentrated flavour and deep ruby colour.
Furthermore, in each of the regions, a minimum of Barbera grapes used is 85%. Wine makers can then blend in Freisa, Grignolino, and/or Dolcetto grapes for the remaining 15%, or stick to 100% Barbera should they choose. This leads to even more variety.
Barbera isn’t naturally tannic, however modern winemakers have been known to age the wine in oak barrels, which will add wood tannin to the wine. Winemakers seem to love experimenting with this wine, thus, before you buy a bottle, be sure to talk to a wine merchant who can tell you more about what you are buying.