Fascinating Facts About Barbera, Sangiovese and Aglianico

ItalianRedsItalian reds are being featured in today’s Cyber Circle offering from Vinesse, and you can read more about the specific wines here.

Because Italian wine, in general, can be challenging to understand — some grapes are named for regions, while others are not, to name just one perplexity — I thought it might be useful (and perhaps helpful) to assemble just a few fascinating facts about the three varieties featured in the Cyber Circle sampler.

While I fully understand that a little bit of knowledge can be dangerous, I hope the following factoids will help you enjoy these well-curated wines even more…


  1. Unlike many red wines, Barbera is fairly light-bodied, can be quite refreshing (because of its mouth-watering acidity) and is meant to be consumed in its youth — no need for extended cellar aging.
  1. DNA testing suggests that Barbera may be related to Mourvedre, a grape commonly grown in France and Spain.
  1. Barbera is believed to have originated in the small northern Italy town of Monferrato, which today is one of the country’s most important wine districts (part of the Piedmont region).


  1. Sangiovese’s name is derived from the Latin sanguis Jovis, which translates to “the blood of Jove.”
  1. When you’re drinking Chianti, you’re drinking Sangiovese. The variety also is one of the grapes used to make “Super Tuscan” wines, typically blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and/or Merlot.
  1. Like Barbera, Sangiovese possesses higher-than-typical acidity for a red wine, which is what makes it so food-friendly.


  1. Some have said that Aglianico may be the wine variety “with the longest consumer history of all,” since its roots can be traced to ancient Greece.
  1. Wines made from Aglianico grapes tend to be full bodied. Its rich flavors make it a wonderful pairing partner for meats such as lamb.
  1. Because it can take several years for some Aglianico wines to fully mature, it’s often suggested that younger bottlings be decanted prior to serving.

There you go — nine fascinating facts about three wonderful wine varieties. Now go out and amaze your friends with your knowledge of Italian reds!

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Posted in Wine in the Glass
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