Italian Barbera is naturally high in acidity and low in tannin, making it perfect with dishes featuring tomatoes such as Pizza, Lasagna, Chicken Parmesan, Bruschetta, Penne in a Vodka sauce, and Spaghetti & Meatballs.

Barbera comes in a variety of styles, however, the most popular style is Italian Barbera which is light, bright and fruity with notes of cherry, raspberry and plum. You’ll see these styles of Barbera as Barbera d’Asti, Barbera d’Alba, and Barbera di Monferrato. Italian Barbera also features hints of earthiness, spice, and herbs, making it excellent with dishes containing mushrooms or truffles.

Italian Barbera is not a showboat wine. It’s not made to wow you with bold and complex flavours or punch you in the face with searing tannin. Rather, Italian Barbera is made in a style to showcase the food you are eating. Its tart acidity electrifies all the ingredients in your dish, while its light fruitiness offers brief refreshment without getting in the way of whatever you are eating.

Recommended producers of Italian Barbera include Aldo Conterno, Giuseppe Mascarello, Paolo Scavino, Braida, Icardi, Maria Borio, Fontanafredda and Vietti.

Barbera may also be oaked and showcase a bold and flavourful profile. Australia, California, Washington and British Columbia are all experimenting with Barbera of this style. The pairings below do not apply to these oak aged and bolder styles which showcase forceful flavours of spice, vanilla, cherry and blackberry. If you are curious about this style of Barbera, I recommend Barbera from Sandhill, Borjon Complijo, and Viansa Augusto. As for food pairings, the website for these individual and bold Barbera bottles should have excellent recommendations.

Best Food with Barbera

VarietalFoodRating
Barbera DOCPasta with Tomato Sauce
Barbera DOCPizza
Barbera (DOC)Penne alla Vodka
Barbera (DOC)Prosciutto
Barbera DOCTomato
Barbera d'AstiChicken Tikka Masla
Barbera d'Asti, SuperioreGnocchi in a Sage & Butter Sauce
Barbera d'Asti, SuperioreGnocchi in a Tomato Sauce
Barbera DOCBBQ Ribs
Barbera DOCPasta Carbonara
Barbera DOCLasagna
Barbera d'Asti DOCPorchetta
Barbera DOCBel Paese Cheese
Barbera DOCFontina Cheese
Barbera d'Alba (DOC)Prosciutto di Parma
Barbera DOCRoasted Chicken
Barbera DOCDishes with Roasted Tomato and Pasilla Sauce
Barbera DOCKidneys
Barbera DOCChicken Adobo
Barbera DOCMexican Cuisine (tomato based)
Barbera d'Alba (DOC)Pasta with Meatballs/Meat Sauce
Barbera d'Asti (DOC)Pasta with Meatballs/Meat Sauce
Barbera DOCPepperoni Pizza
Barbera DOCPizza with Sausage
Barbera DOCMushroom Risotto
Barbera DOCTomato Salad
Barbera DOCSalami
Barbera DOCTomato Sauce
Barbera DOCMinestrone Soup
Barbera DOCPasta with Artichokes
Barbera DOCArtichoke Pizza
Barbera DOCBruschetta
Barbera DOCSwedish Meatballs
Barbera DOCHot Dogs
Barbera d'Alba (DOC)Chicken Parmesan
Barbera DOCPasta Bolognese
Barbera DOCGyuu no Tataki Sushi/Sashimi - raw beef
Barbera DOCChicken Cacciatore
Barbera DOCChicken-karaage
Barbera DOCEggplant Parmesan
Barbera DOCMoussaka
Barbera DOCSpaghetti and Meatballs
Barbera DOCChicken Cacciatore
Barbera d'Asti, SuperioreBaked Gnocchi with Meat Rag?
Barbera DOCRavioli
Barbera DOCPizza Margherita
Barbera DOCAgnolotti - Pasta
Barbera DOCCannelloni
Barbera DOCPastitsio
Barbera DOCFaggot
Barbera DOCAmerican Goulash
Barbera DOCGa Kho - Caramelized Chicken
Barbera DOCPizza Rolls - Pizza Bites
Barbera DOCSpinach and Ricotta Cannelloni
Barbera DOCCalzone
Barbera DOCBagna Cauda
Barbera DOCBay Leaf
Barbera DOCBeef Braised
Barbera DOCBeef Carpaccio
Barbera DOCRoast Beef
Barbera DOCBeef Stroganoff
Barbera DOCWild Boar
Barbera DOCCarpaccio
Barbera DOCCassoulet
Barbera DOCCharcuterie
Barbera DOCAsiago Cheese
Barbera DOCGorgonzola Cheese
Barbera DOCMorbier Cheese
Barbera DOCMuenster Cheese
Barbera DOCParmesan Cheese
Barbera DOCRaclette Cheese
Barbera DOCRomano Cheese
Barbera d'Asti (DOC)Parmesan Gougères
Barbera DOCBaked Chicken with Tomato Sauce
Barbera DOCCilantro
Barbera DOCBraised Duck
Barbera DOCRoasted Duck
Barbera DOCEggplant
Barbera DOCFennel
Barbera DOCGarlic
Barbera DOCLamb
Barbera DOCChicken Liver
Barbera d'Alba (DOC)Grilled Mahi-Mahi
Barbera DOCMushrooms
Barbera DOCWild Mushrooms
Barbera DOCPasta
Barbera DOCPasta with Cheese Sauce
Barbera DOCPasta with Mushrooms
Barbera DOCPasta with Sausage
Barbera DOCPesto
Barbera DOCPheasant
Barbera DOCRisotto
Barbera DOCMarinara
Barbera DOCItalian Sausage
Barbera DOCSteak Porterhouse
Barbera DOCTruffles
Barbera DOCZucchini
Barbera DOCChicken Alfredo
Barbera DOCPoutine
Barbera DOCButter Chicken
Barbera DOCVeal Marsala
Barbera DOCChicken Pot Pie
Barbera DOCPotato Soup
Barbera DOCBaked Ziti
Barbera DOCPrime Rib Roast
Barbera DOCBarbecue Chicken Pizza
Barbera DOCPasta Puttanesca
Barbera DOCEnchiladas
Barbera DOCChicken Fried Steak
Barbera DOCCabbage Rolls
Barbera DOCLiver and Onions
Barbera DOCManhattan Clam Chowder (Tomato Based)
Barbera DOCOsso Buco

Pizza & Barbera D’Asti Wine Pairing


Barbera is excellent with Pizza for several reasons. The number one reason is that Barbera is light, fruity and low in tannin. When you mesh tannin together with tomato sauce, your wine will end up tasting like tin or aluminum. Barbera, on the other hand, is zippy with acidity so it won’t clash with your pizza.

The acidity in Barbera also helps wash away the fat and salt of your Pizza. This means every bite tastes fresh. Fat in Pizza will clog up your taste receptors while salt overcharges them. Ever notice how we often eat too much Pizza. It’s because we are often trying to recapture the thrill of the first few bites. With Barbera, every bite will taste as delicious as the first as the acidity keeps your mouth refreshed. Thus, you’ll have some tasty leftovers to look forward to for lunch the next day, rather than slipping into a food coma at night.

Finally, Barbera is low in alcohol, so if you’re enjoying a Pizza and a bottle of wine for dinner, you’ll feel more refreshed than if you had a heavier bottle of wine.

As for Pizza, there are no limits with Barbera (other than fruits like Pineapple or Mango). Ham, Pepperoni, Onions, Bell Peppers, Banana Peppers, BBQ Chicken, mushrooms and sausage all get along great with Barbera.

Penne alla Vodka & Barbera d’Alba Pairing


Vodka Sauce is an orange-looking pasta sauce made from tomatoes, heavy cream, herbs and vodka. The cream makes it taste smooth and rich while still maintaining the tartness of the tomatoes. Italian Barbera pairs well with Penne alla Vodka as this red wine is low in tannin, complements the sauce with its fruity and herbal flavours, which mimic the sweetness of the tomatoes and the greenness of the herbs. Meanwhile, the acidity of Barbera cuts through the rich cream allowing each bite to taste fresh.

For similar reasons, Barbera d’Alba is exceptional with the spicy tomato and cream based sauce of Chicken Tikka Masala.

Prosciutto and Barbera Pairing


Barbera isn’t just meant for tomato based dishes, and there’s a whole other world of food pairings to experiment with this red wine (check out the table above!). Salty and fatty foods such as Prosciutto are excellent with Barbera as the crisp acidity washes away the fattiness and salt of this cured meat. Keeping your palate cleansed with Barbera allows the melt-in-your-mouth flavours of Prosciutto to taste amazing, bite after bite. The saltiness of the cured meat also makes the wine taste brighter, allowing the fruity flavours of cherry and raspberry to taste even more refreshing.

Italian Barbera is also recommended with a Charcuterie board, where you have a variety of cheeses and meats on hand to enjoy with this red wine. Naturally low in Alcohol, Barbera will ensure you and your guests won’t get too tipsy should you be enjoying a little wine and cured meat before dinner.

Lasagna & Barbera Wine Pairing


Light and fruity, Barbera makes for an excellent wine pairing with Lasagna as it offers refreshing and contrasting flavours of cherry, plum and raspberry to Lasagna’s dense flavours of meat, cheese and pasta. With Lasagna already being so flavourful, you don’t need a wine to compete with it, rather, you need a wine like Barbera which will showcase your Lasagna.

Barbera’s acidity lifts up the individual flavours in your Lasagna, making the layers of meat, cheese, and roasted vegetables stand out, so you taste each individual flavour. The acidity also whisks away the taste bud clogging flavours of the pasta noodles, beef fat and cheese fats which would normally taste your third or fourth bite of Lasagna taste muted. With Barbera, each bite of delicious Lasagna tastes as fresh as the last. Finally, Barbera’s rustic herbal notes blend in perfectly the herbal tomato sauce of your Lasagna making your meal taste even more delicious.

Chicken Parmesan & Barbera Pairing


Chicken Parmesan is often smothered in tomato sauce, thus it requires an acidic red wine like Barbera. Here the sweetness of the cherry, plum and raspberry flavours complement the sweetness of the tomato sauce. Herbal and rustic, Italian Barbera also complements the herbal element that is blended into your Chicken Parmesan.

Barbera also cuts through the gooey cheese and breading on your chicken which helps the subtle chicken flavours stand out. The chicken is what you are paying for after all, so you’ll want to be able to taste those delicious poultry flavours.

Finally, Barbera once again keeps your taste buds cleansed. With Chicken Parmesan, the deep-fried breading on the chicken along with the cheese can clog up your taste receptors, meaning after a few bites, everything tastes muted and boring. With Barbera, you get the excitement of that first bite back instantaneously, making for a delicious food and wine pairing.

Barbera is exceptional with other chicken dishes featuring tomato sauce including Butter Chicken, Pizza topped with Chicken, or a creamy tomato chicken skillet dinner.