The Wine Lover’s Guide to Nebbiolo

Don’t let the translucent appearance and delicate aromas of Nebbiolo wine fool you. One sip, and you’ll discover that this is a bold, full-bodied red wine rich with tannins. 

Nebbiolo grapes are cultivated in Barolo and Barbaresco, located in the Piedmont region of Italy. It is here that some of the world’s most celebrated wines are produced. Nebbiolo is Italian for “fog,” and the grapes are likely named so because the best Nebbiolo grape vineyards are located high above the valley where the fog collects.

What Are The Differences Between Barbaresco and Barolo Wines?

Nebbiolo wine boasts delicate aromas of roses, raspberries, and cherries, followed by robust flavors of cherry, coffee, and anise. And while there are similarities between Barbaresco and Barolo, there are also differences.

Barolo is more strikingly tannic compared with Barbaresco, due to the latter’s more nutrient rich soil. Additionally, the Barbaresco maritime climate causes the grapes to ripen early, which also softens tannins

The tannin rich Barolo requires a longer aging process, so it must be stored for three years before release, with 18 months of that time spent in oak. Barbaresco need only be stored for two years with nine months in oak. The aging process reduces tannins while altering the fruit flavors in the wine.

Barolo has often been referred to as the “King of Wines and Wine of the Kings.” It is typically costlier than Barbaresco. With fewer tannins, Barbaresco is considered more elegant and easier to drink, especially when it’s young.

What Foods Pair Well With Nebbiolo Wine?

Because Nebbiolo wine is highly tannic, it pairs well with fatty meats such as steak, prime rib, turkey, and prosciutto. It also enhances the flavors of traditional Italian foods that contain garlic and tomato-based sauces. 

Foods flavored with sage, tarragon, black pepper, fennel, anise, and clove partner well with the wine. And if you’re preparing vegetarian, consider matching up Nebbiolo wine with roasted garlic, truffle, butternut squash, fried polenta, or wild rice.

For a nontraditional pairing, Nebbiolo complements Asian cuisine quite well, especially dishes that feature brown sauces and Asian 5-spice sauces.

Nebbiolo Wine That We Love

Our Guide to Nebbiolo Wine would be incomplete without sharing some of our favorites:

    • Sordo Barolo. A bold and tannic vintage that is both dry and acidic. Known for its earthy flavor notes, as well as oak, tobacco, vanilla, and leather.
  • Oddero Barolo. Described as “expressive,” this Barolo wine contains hints of crushed flowers, sweet red berry, mint, and cinnamon. It comes from the historic estate of Oddero, one of the earliest to bottle Barolo.
  • Paitin Barbaresco Serraboella. Produced at one of the oldest wineries in Barbaresco, Serraboella is a bold and earthy wine featuring flavor notes of cherry, raspberry, and strawberry.
  • Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco. This critically acclaimed wine was aged for 24 months in oak and offers the palate flavors of raspberry, leather, tea leaf, and blood orange.