Barbera d’Asti is one of the leading wine styles in the fine wine world and also a great value! Doesn’t that seem odd though, most people have heard of Barbera but I bet you’re not drinking it enough, right? I find myself saying that exact sentence most days when I go to open one, and I am pleasantly whisked away in my glass to Italy.

Did you know that Barbera was the most-planted grape in Italy until about 30 or so years ago. That’s huge, considering how many varietals Italy grows, but Barbera d’Asti is a different than other Barbera’s on the market so don’t be fooled! Barbera from Asti boasts more of the terroir it’s from, and you’ll notice on the nose, as well as the palate, the beautiful earth minerality notes these wines can have. This is because the wines are produced in the hilly areas of the province of Asti. This is one of the most famous wines in the Piedmont region and should absolutely be on your must-taste list as soon as possible!

Sometimes you’ve been sold Barbera as a casual wine thats good with pizza and Italian takeout. Although Barbera would go nicely with those dishes, there is more to this wine than meets the eye. Barbera d’Asti in particular possesses many more qualities that make it a highly capable of amazing pairings with a number of different cuisines. I enjoyed Barbera d’Asti over Christmas with Prime Rib, Pernil, and all my family favorites. I just got married so we blended families this year and had a bit of American, German, and Dominican cuisines to pick from, and our bottle of the Enzo Bartoli Barbera d’Asti Superiore 2018 was superb with all of our food options! 

This wine has beautiful oak, cocoa, and tobacco notes followed by luscious red and purple fruit like blackberry and plum. Some smoke and leather are noticeable and well integrated. This wine is exciting and vibrant and should be brought to a dinner party more often! I think this ideal for red wine drinkers who are looking to expand their tastings and really sip something so delicious and beautiful quality.

Thanks to Barbera d’Asti’s freshness and bright fruit flavors, it’s a delight for even those who enjoy fruity wines with a bit more “old world” style to them. These wines are light in tannins, so you don’t have to worry and they have this elegance that you just have to sip to understand. The color this wine delivers in the glass will make you think it’s big and overpowering, but I promise these wines are easy to drink, food worthy, and oh so perfect for this winter season!

The Enzo Bartoli delivers a lot of concentration, while others I have tried show more minerality, or oak, and more. I enjoy youthful Barbera’s however you can easily lay these wines down to age for five to ten years more. The acidity and fruit holds up well overtime, so what I like to do is if I enjoy a wine that I know can age, buy two or 3. Sip one now, and then wait on the others and open them in a few years, you’ll love to see the wine age and it’s so interesting to see it and taste its development in the bottle.

The Barbera d’Asti world has a wide variety, and I had the pleasure of tasting through a few others including the Malagra Barbera d’Asti Superiore “FORNACE DI CERRETO”, and the Rovero Gustin Barbera d’Asti Superiore. I absolutely think these wines are so perfect this time of year, and really take you “traveling” in your glass. If we can’t jet set to Italy right now, why not be there in your wine glass (essentially) and these wines are ideal for that! The Malagra is produced from grapes from a vineyard called “Fornace di Cerreto” which means oven of Cerreto, from an old brick oven that used to be there. This wine is complex with notes of berries and mature red fruit. Overall it’s a great wine with nice body and balance! It’s a perfect wine for short ribs, winter risotto, or even something a bit more exotic like Wienerschnitzel!

The Rovero Gustin is intense with cherry and strawberry notes. On the palate good tannins, very smooth, and it’s a vibrant wine with great balance and a lingering finish. I absolutely loved this wine with the slow roasted pernil I took as my Christmas leftovers. My mother in law cooks it low and slow for 48 hours until it becomes deliciously shredded and soft and flavorful and the fruit and complexity in this wine went beautifully with it!

If you’re looking to explore Italy a bit more, take a deep dive into Barbera d’Asti! There is so much to this region and you will fall in love with the wines. Be sure to pair responsibly!