Barbaresco vs Barolo

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Similarities of Barbaresco & Barolo

Barolo and Barbaresco are the pride and joy of the Piedmont region – both wines are crafted from the Nebbiolo grape, and are regarded extremely highly worldwide for their fantastic quality. Sometimes it can be challenging to choose between them, so in this article, we will fill you in on their respective characteristics and help you decide before you pull out your wallet. 

Nebbiolo is native to the northwestern Italian region of Piedmont and is the basis for some of the best red wines in the world. It’s a dark, thick-skinned grape that takes a long time to ripen. As it ripens, it also obtains a spider web-like white frosting on the surface of its berries – similar to the condensation that covers your window on a cold morning. Barolo and Barbaresco are named after their respective appellations, which are very close together within the region of Piedmont, and both lie along the banks of the River Tanaro. 

Differences of Barbaresco Versus Barolo

The distinction between Barbaresco and Barolo is slight, but these small differences may help you make a decision between the two. Barbaresco is often overshadowed by Barolo and could be considered the “bigger” wine’s younger brother. This is not only because wine production in the Barbaresco region started about 50 years later than in Barolo but also because it is slightly less tannic, and has less of a worldwide reputation.

The actual tangible differences between the two wines mostly come down to soil types in the respective regions and production methods. Barbaresco’s soils are slightly more favourable for vine-growing, but the nutrient-starved grapes in Barolo produce wine with higher levels of tannins. The DOCG rules also mean that Barolo has to be aged for slightly longer than Barbaresco – 3 years versus 2 years. 

How To Distinguish Between Barbaresco & Barolo

Both of these Nebbiolo wines are surprisingly light in color, taking on a red, bricky hue with age. They are also both recognisable for their famous bouquet of tar and roses – however, it is possible to tell the difference between them in a tasting. 

Barolo is known for its bold, tannic, and complex flavour profile. It has high acidity and alcohol content, with flavours of dark fruit, leather, and truffle. Barbaresco, on the other hand, is known for its more delicate and elegant flavour profile. It has a lower tannin content than Barolo and flavours of red fruit, floral, and spices. A glass of Barolo can be a challenging, yet highly rewarding experience. Both wines are big, bold reds, but if you prefer lighter wines, think about sticking to Barbaresco. 

Barbaresco vs Barolo Comparison Chart

Characteristic Barbaresco Barolo
Sweetness Dry Dry
Acidity High High
Tannins High High
Body Full Full
Tasting Notes A bouquet of tar and roses, black and red fruits, florality, spice, and smooth tannins A bouquet of tar and roses, black and red fruits, an earthy, leathery quality, spice, and intense tannins.
Popularity 3,600 Monthly Searches 14,800 Monthly Searches
Calories Per Glass 110 calories 110 calories
ABV % 13 – 15.5% 12.5 – 15.5%

Pairing Food With Barbaresco & Barolo

As far as red wine goes, Barolo and Barbaresco are both bold, tannic wines and are best when paired with a serious piece of meat. Aim for hearty, savory dishes, like roast goose or beef or venison stew. Barolo and Barbaresco can handle a lot of fats and proteins, so you can’t go wrong with a steak either.

Barbaresco food pairing link

Barolo food pairing link