Mucho Gusto: Get to know Barbera

Oh, hey there! It’s been a while. A year, to be exact. I haven’t forgotten about you. In fact, just when I think I’ll have time to knock out a blog post, something happens. Like grad school, which is in the rear view mirror. Or like a house flood, which, after a year and a half, is still very much in the driver’s seat.

If there’s anything I’ve learned since the Great Deluge of 2016, it’s this: the antidote to dealing with insurance companies, an hijo de p$*# general contractor and moving 10 times in one year is a gigante glass of vino.

So sit back, relax and get to know Barbera. Moving truck and cardboard boxes optional.


HOLA, ME LLAMO: Barbera is a dry red wine that is the third most widely planted grape in Italy and the Piedmont region’s second-most popular red grape.

MY ROOTS: Piedmont in Northern Italy is considered the birthplace of Barbera. But an Italian expert in grapes notes that Oltrepo Pavese in the Lombardy region is its actual birthplace. Much like me in the last year, Barbera can put down roots just about anywhere it lands. It’s grown in some central Italian regions and Sardegna. It’s also planted in Australia, California, Slovenia and Mendoza, Argentina.

ALL ABOUT ME: Barbera is known for its zingy acidity, tame tannins and typically lower alcohol content. You’ll get some distinct cherry aromas in a younger Barbera. Those aged in oak will give off plummy notes with a hint of cinnamon and black pepper. A premium Barbera that’s been cellared for some time will display meaty, mushroomy flavors.

FOODS I LOVE: You know that juicy, bacon mushroom hamburger you dream about when you pick at your Caesar salad in the cafeteria at work? That’s what you want to pair with a Barbera. It’s a dream with risotto, and it’ll class up a pizza faster than you can say ‘extra cheese.’  Barbera pairs muy bien with carne asada and pollo a la brasa, too.

DO TRY THIS AT HOME: Pick up an everyday Barbera for anywhere between $14 and $20. Get all fancy and you can find one in the $40-$60 range and above. My go-to grape guru, Oz Clarke, recommends Bertelli Barbera d’Asti Superiore Stradivario; Coppo Barbera d’Asti Pomorosso; Elio Altare Langhe Larigi and La Tosa Colli Piacentini Gutturnio Vignamorello. If you’re a New World kind of chica or chico, try Bonny Doon Ca’ del Solo Barbera from California or Norton Barbera from the famed Argentine winery.

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