Northern Ohio Wine Guild proposes Thanksgiving with Barbera

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Though not well known in this country, Barbera is considered the “people’s wine” in Italy.

By Mary Malik

Have you chosen the wine you’re serving with your Thanksgiving meal? Have you heard of Barbera (pronounced bar-BEAR-ah) wines? Though not well known in this country, Barbera is considered the “people’s wine” in Italy. Of all the grape varieties grown in Italy, Barbera is the third most planted, after Sangiovese and Montepulciano, with over 50,000 acres of vines in the country.

“Barbera wine is consumed with practically any Italian food and at low prices,” says Jim Sperk of the Northern Ohio Wine Guild. “The grape produces wines that are very dark in color, almost as dark as Syrah, while exhibiting low tannins, high acidity and unlike most dark wines are very juicy, relatively light-bodied and moderate in alcohol levels.”

Jim says that the aromas of Barbera wines tend to be slightly floral or herbaceous, while tastes range from strawberry and blueberry to sour cherry with a touch of spice.

“When aged, the Barbera wines are held in neutral oak barrels, but the wines produced are meant to be consumed in the first two to three years,” says Jim.

Barbera grapes are also grown in California and Oregon in small numbers. Due to different growing conditions in these regions, Barbera wines from this country are a bit more full-bodied and exhibit more fruit. The best attribute of the Barbera wines is that they can easily complement a wide variety of foods. Experts suggest pairing Barbera wines with things like mushrooms, herbs, herbaceous cheeses like bleu and foods higher in tannins like root vegetables and braised greens.

“In fact, if you’re looking for an interesting variety of wine for your Thanksgiving table, you might consider any one of the many Italian Barbera offerings as the perfect complement,” says Jim.

For information on the Northern Ohio Wine Guild, contact Jim Sperk at