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Grape of the Week: Barbera

Welcome back! This week's edition of "Grape of the Week" features another great summertime red: Barbera.

Barberas are grown primarily in Italy's Piedmont region, but do nicely in other regions such as California and Argentina. The aromas and flavors can vary depending on where it is grown and how it is styled. It is a grape that produces a medium to medium-plus body and has full fruit flavors. It tends to be high in acidity but low in tannin.

Barberas can be high in alcohol, typically around 13.5%-14.6% ABV, and therefore can stand up to aging for a few more years in bottle, if you so desire.

That said, the nose on Barbera wines can yield wonderful fruit aromas of sour cherries and red plums, (Italy) to black cherries and blackberries (U.S.). The palate tends to be more fruit forward and short lived. Flavors of sour cherry and tart plum as well as some herbal ones can be found in Italian Barberas that are aged in stainless steel, whereas flavors of black cherry, blackberry, black licorice and chocolate can be found in California Barberas aged in oak barrels.

For summertime selections, I prefer to stick with the Italian wines. They tend to be lighter bodied, with more acidity, fewer tannins, and lighter fruit notes of cherries and plums.

This wine is my frequent "go-to" wine for surf-n-turf, (seafood and steak). The high acidity cuts through the fats in the butter sauces served with lobster and crab, as well as the fats in the steaks. The low tannins allow the flavors to come through and not overpower the seafood, and yet have enough of a presence as to not be overpowered by the red meats. Of course you can pair this wine with just about anything you decide to grill outside this summer, and I hope you will give it a try.

You can get Barberas from between $8-$20/bottle. If you plan on aging them for a while longer, find one with a natural or synthetic cork. If it has a screw cap, drink it now, it's ready to go! Enjoy!

One of my favorite Barberas comes from Cantina Casteggio, and costs about $10/bottle. Cheers!

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