After Sangiovese, which is the main ingredient in Chianti wines, Barbera is the second most grown grape varietal in Italy. Though now planted worldwide, the best examples of Barbera are found in and around the Monferrato hills of Piemonte, the northwestern corner of Italy (particularly in Barbera d’Alba and Barbera d’Asti) where it is thought to have originated in the 1200s. Barbera’s main traits are its intense ruby color, notes of dark fruits such as plums, black cherries and currants, high acidity, and low levels of tannins, the later two deeming it a wine to be drunk young and historically giving it the bad reputation for being a table wine. Through the years, however, winemakers have been experimenting with the grape, aging it in oak barrels to balance out its flavor and harvesting it later so that its grapes contain more sugar thereby increasing the alcohol content in the fermentation process and making it a better contender for aging. Barbera wines are highly compatible with most dishes (pasta, pizza, white and red meat, parmesan), so it makes a perfect bottle of wine to share among friends when dining out. Salute!