Barbera is known for its deep color, low tannins and high levels of acid. Unlike its celebrated cousins, Barolo and Barbaresco, Barbera lacks the hard, tannic edges and, as a result, does not lend itself to cellar aging. Rather, at its best, Barbera has a supple texture with mouth-filling chocolaty, licoricey, cherry, figgy fruit flavors and, because of its high acidity, a vibrancy and zip that make Barberas great counterparts to food.
When young, Barbera wines offer a very intense aromas of red and black berries. The lightest versions are generally known for aromas and flavors of fresh and dried fruits; wines with better balance between acid and fruit, often with the addition of oak and having a high alcohol content, are more capable of cellaring. However, for the most part, Barberas are meant to be consumed young.
Barberas pair well with meats in simple pan or tomato sauces, roast duck with plum sauce, and risotto and with tomato sauces. Barbarea's high percentage of acids makes it a poor match for rich cream sauces. Barbera also pairs well with cold cuts, antipasta, sausage, chicken and ham.
Cheeses that go well with Barbera include Asiago, Camembert, Colby, Dry Jack, Fontina, Gorgonzola, Grana Padano, goat-milk cheeses, Havarti, Monterey Jack, Morbier, Muenster, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Piave, Provolone, Tallegio and such sheep-milk cheeses as Pecorino Romano and Pecorino Toscana.