To my palate, Barbera is smooth, semi-fruity, with notes of honey and light earthy tannins.
Barbera grapes originate in the Piedmont region of Italy. In the 19th century Italian immigrants brought the vines to California and Argentina and has now made its way to other vineyard regions around the globe. Over the last few decades Barbera grapes have become the third most widely planted grape in Italy.
From a culinary perspective, Barbera is an interesting wine to pair. It has the singular ability to taste both rich and complex and light and fruity all at the same time. In my mind, this allows for a wider pairing repertoire, although rich, hearty flavored foods seem to match the best. A thick and hearty root vegetable stew with a game meat and a glass of Barbera could be a great autumn evening meal.
From a health perspective, Barbera grapes are similar in DNA structure to mourvedre (which is probably why I like them). They are a rich source of antioxidants and other phytonutrients. Resveratrol is among the most popular being in the limelight of pop culture health and fitness. Research suggests that resveratrol decreases incidence and potential of cardiovascular disease as well as balancing cholesterol and reducing the formation of blood clots. Resveratrol also protects against cell damage and mental decline. The ellargic acid found in red grapes also contributes to metabolic increase and increases the body’s fat burning potential, mostly by decreasing the body’s ability to produce new fat cells and delaying the growth of fat cells already present. Of course, all this good stuff about red wine is dependent on moderation and type of wine. So, if you’re going to have a glass, make it just a glass or two tops, and make sure it is a consciously produced wine. Old world wines from France, Italy, and Spain tend to have more stringent fermentation guidelines, otherwise, I say go for the organic, or better yet the sustainable and/or biodynamic wines.