Barbera Wine Guide: History, Characteristics, Pairings, Serving

What is Barbera wine? When talking about wines from Italy, you might have noticed that it’s mostly Barolo this, Nebbiolo that. Rarely does the Barbera wine enter the talks.

Despite that, this wine is renowned as the wine of the people – a mystery that can confuse many. You do not have to be confused, though, because today, we will get to know this wine and uncover this mystery!

An Overview of the Barbera Wine


First thing, first. Let’s run through the basics of the wine.

Characteristics Barbera
Type Red
Sweetness Dry
Acidity High
Tannins Low
Alcohol High
Body Light to Full
Notes Berries and Cherries

The Barbera is a red wine variety. It is a generally dry wine that is highly acidic and barely tannic. To add, in general, it is highly alcoholic. However, it can be light-bodied or full-bodied. For its notes, it mostly has flavors and aromas of berries and cherries.

What Is the Barbera Grape?


To get to know the wine, let’s get to know its grape first.

The Barbera is a red wine grape variety that has two notable characteristics as a grape. First, it tends to give high yields that it needs to be kept in check, and second, it ripens earlier than some well-known varieties.

At one point, it was the second most-planted red grape in Italy. However, around the 1980s, it lost its spot due to the association of the grape with the death of 30 people. You do not need to worry, though. The grape is not toxic, and the incident was due to the illegal addition of methanol. Still, the grape gained a bad reputation because of this.

The vine of this grape is slowly crawling the ladders again, though. It might not have gotten its spot back again immediately after the incident. However, it is currently the third planted red grape in the region.

Where Can You Find the Barbera Grape?


The Barbera grape can be found in Italy. However, it has also found its way outside of the country. For example, you can also find it in parts of the United States and Australia.

How Do They Make Barbera Wine?

Here, let’s talk about how the grape turns into wine. Winemakers have different ways of handling the grape and making the wine. There are bottles that only hold the Barbera, but mixing it with other varietals is not uncommon too.

There might be different ways to handle the grapes and make the wine, but oak barrels are almost always a staple, as it helps with more than just turning the grapes into wine. It also greatly aids with the notes and the body, for example.

What Are the Characteristics of the Barbera Wine?


We’ve talked about the grape, and we’ve also discussed the winemaking process. Now, let’s focus on the wine.

As you might already know, wines are a delight for their complexities. They offer a tangle of flavors, texture, and so much more! With that, let’s take a closer look at its characteristics.


As we have said above, the Barbera wine is a red wine variety. However, there are also sparkling Barbera wines. You will likely have a tough time hunting down a bottle of sparkling Barbera, though. It is rare outside of Italy. With that, make sure you go and look for a bottle of it when you visit the country!


The Barbera wine is a dry wine. Sometimes, to the point of being bone-dry. Still, some might describe it as having a hint of sweetness because of its fruity flavors.


This wine is highly acidic. Sometimes, too much that winemakers seek ways to soften it up.


As for the tannins, the Barbera wine has low levels of it. However, you do not have to worry. You will still likely grasp it, unlike other wines with low tannins that it is barely perceivable already.


This wine can have a moderate level of alcohol. However, it generally has high levels of it, with some styles even going beyond the requirement. You can expect most Barbera wines to have an ABV of around 13%.


With the color of this wine, it will likely not be surprising to know it can be full-bodied. However, despite its color, it can also be light-bodied.


Like most wines, the Barbera wine has an array of notes. Here are some of the most notable ones:

  • Berries
  • Cherries
  • Nutmeg
  • Plum
  • Star Anise
  • Strawberries
  • Vanilla

As we have said above, the Barbera grapes can come from different places.

With that, you might want to remember that, like with most wines, the set of notes and what will stand out more will depend on where the grapes used for the wine are from. The Barbera could have more herbaceous or fruity flavors and aromas depending on the place from where the grapes came from.

Tips When Buying Barbera Wine


We’ve discussed the Barbera from grape to bottle. Next, let’s talk about getting a bottle!

How Much Does the Barbera Wine Cost?

To a lover of wines, all wines might be good. However, not all wines come with the same price tag. One way to get a good bottle is to know the price point of a particular wine.

Earlier, we said that this wine is renowned as the wine of the people. Well, that’s because it was an inexpensive wine that you don’t need a special occasion to be popped open. It is an everyday wine, you could say. On the other hand, it rarely makes the talk because while it is great for everyday use, for some time, many did not deem it worthy enough to be exported.

With that said, you can already expect a decent bottle at around $15. However, if you want a good one, you can get one at around $50.

Old-World and New-World Barbera Wine

Old-world Barbera wine seems to have more herbaceous notes. On the other hand, new-world Barbera seems to have more fruity notes. To find the bottle for you, you might want to decide which one of the two you prefer.

After you have decided between the two, you want to look for the regions that produce such styles. If you favor the former, you want to look at bottles from Italy. On the other hand, if you prefer the latter, you want to look for Barbera wines from outside the country.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

Looking at the price tag could be easy. On the other hand, learning about the different places from which the grape came could be a little challenging at first, especially if you need a bottle fast.

Sometimes, even if you study the regions and their grapes and styles, it could still be hard to tell what would fit an occasion. With that, you don’t have to be scared of asking the sommelier for help! Whether you are new to the wine world or have been sipping the grape for some time, they could offer a mighty fine suggestion for your needs!

How to Serve Barbera Wine?


Do you have your bottle? Great! Now, let’s talk about how you want to serve it.

Generally, it is best to enjoy this wine young. However, you do not have to worry. There are bottles out there that can and should be aged that you can add to your collection too.

As the Barbera is a red wine variety and one that is often drunk young, you might want to decant it before taking a sip.

For the glass, you can serve it in a standard red wine glass. On the other hand, you can also use a Burgundy glass if you want to be fancy.

Finally, for the temperature, you want to serve this wine at around 60° F.

You can enjoy this wine on its own. However, it is known as a food-friendly wine, so you can also pair it with a dish or two. With that, let’s talk about food pairings next.

What Food Goes with the Barbera Wine?

This wine can go with an array of food.

For one, this Italian wine can go well with, well, Italian food! As we have said earlier, this wine is an affordable option that can be an everyday wine. Well, to add, it can also go well with your affordable Italian favorites! Think pizza and pasta!

However, that is not all you can pair with the Barbera. It can also go well with dark meats if you want something fancy. On the other hand, if you want something vegan, you can also pair it with mushrooms and root veggies.

Final Words

What is Barbera wine? Well, today, we answered this question and so much more! From the grape, the process, the bottle, and getting the wine and serving it to your table, we discussed it all today! We hope we got to help you with your wine worry and aid you in getting to know this wine today.

If you have other wines you want to get to know, you might want to check out our other talks. Until next time! Cheers!

Barbera Wine Guide

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