This is probably the first red wine anyone drinks in an Italian restaurant or pizza place. That’s because it can be cheap and very cheerful. The red, juicy fruit and the low tannins are appealing, while the firm acidity is a positive advantage with rich and fatty foods like cheeses and salamis.

Barbera’s home is the Piedmont in NW Italy. While the bargains are produced there, there are also specific denominations for fine wine. Barbera d’Alba is rich and complex; Barbera d’Asti has some exceptional oak-aged wines.

It is not surprising that the friendly Barbera was one of the varieties that Italian emigrants chose to take with them. Argentina in particular has some excellent versions, full of dark plums and black cherries.

Main characteristics

Colour: red; light to medium garnet

Body: medium bodied

Tastes: cherry fruit, with plenty of natural acidity and lowin tannin

Spotter’s guide: Italy: Piedmont and Lombardy; Argentina

Keep or drink? With its low tannins, Barbera is one of those reds you can drink young; the grander oaked styles may be cellared for 5-10 years

Price range: £4.99-£14.99






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