Everyone likes wines made from Barbera grapes, but not everyone knows it. Yet.
Barbera is widely planted in Italy, where it thrives in the regions of Asti and Alba. Barberas’ thin skin and red fruit will remind you of Pinot Noir, except it’s richer, with bold, lively punches of fresh berries, ripe red cherries, raspberries, and blackberries. Sip it again and you’ll pick up baking spices and a whiff of minerality that will remind you of Italy’s dry red soil. Barberas from Asti tend to have higher acidity and lighter flavors, while those from Alba usually taste darker and less fruity.
The next two weeks are Barbera time. Put down the light summer reds you’ve been drinking. Hold off on those full bodied wines that go so well with holiday meals. Instead, go to the store right now and buy a Barbera from the 2006 vintage (a great vintage and widely available now). Look for Agostino Pavia Barbera D’Asti “La Marescialla” and pair it with anything made with fennel, especially a traditional Italian sausage (pasta, pizza, lasagna); the fennel will really pull together all the flavors in the wine.
Be sure to buy more than one bottle, too. I’ll bet you’ll want to open a second bottle the following night.
Wood is certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers as an Advanced Level Sommelier. He is part of the wine team at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse in Dallas and writes about wines and spirits for EscapeHatchDallas.com.