Barbera and Food Pairings

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 – particularly mushroom risotto, lasagna, minestrone soup, butter chicken, 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 its profile.

Top Foods with Barbera Wine

  • Pasta with Tomato Sauce
  • Pizza
  • Prosciutto
  • BBQ Ribs
  • Lasagna

Barbera paired with Pasta with Tomato Sauce

Barbera is exceptional with Pasta with Tomato Sauce as it has enough acidity to tackle the high acidity of the tomatoes. Wine with a lot of tannin will come across as tasting like tin. Barbera also has enough weight to handle any meat in the tomato sauce or meatballs. Perfecto!

Pizza and Barbera Wine

With Barbera being a light red, and acidic, it won’t fill you up, and it will balance well with the tomato sauce base of pizza. The acidity in the wine will also ensure that it won’t clash with a variety of toppings you add to your pizza. Ham, Pepperoni, Green Peppers, Bacon, Mushrooms, Feta Cheese, etc, all will be sublime with this plummy wine.

Prosciutto paired with Barbera

Prosciutto is a meat that just melts in your mouth, but it’s also quite salty. A light and fruity red like Barbera will wash that saltiness away, keeping your mouth refreshed.

BBQ Ribs and Italian Wine

Many BBQ sauces are tomato based, and tomato always seems to clash with tannin. That’s why you want an acidic red, like Barbera, that will play well with whatever type of BBQ sauce you slather on. Barbera also has the right balance of tannin and acidity to stand up to the tender rib meat inside, but not crush those delicate flavours.

lasagna close up

Lasagna and a Rustic Wine

Barbera makes an excellent mambo partner with a red sauced based Lasagna. While not a showboat wine full of herbal notes, Barbera is high in acidty, and this will elevate the cheese, tomato sauce, and roasted vegetables within your lasagna, all while adding a little rustic charm.

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 as 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%. Winemakers 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.

Find More Pairings in our Wine Database

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