What’s the difference between Barolo, Barbaresco and Nebbiolo?

By / Magazine / May 1st, 2019 / 15

Well, for starters, you’re confusing place with plant. It’s a common mistake when trying to get your head around the Italian wine-scape. Over the years, Italy has been able to inject plenty of terms into the heads and hearts of wine lovers and, like most European winemakers, assumes that just because it knows what they mean, you will too.

The line where grape vines start and geography ends can be as grey as a Pinot Grigio’s grape skin, so don’t be too hard on yourself for not knowing that Nebbiolo is a berry and Barolo and Barbaresco are wines named after two small Italian townships world-renowned for producing wines from its juice.

Nebbiolo is an ancient Italian red varietal most commonly associated with Italy’s northwestern region of Piedmont. It creates wines that are light in colour, which belies their dense fruit flavours and high tannin levels. Famous for their ageability, Nebbiolo-based vino from superior vintages can last decades.

Nebbiolo isn’t Piedmont’s only celebrity grape. Moscato, Barbera and Dolcetto all call the region home, but none draws the attention of wine geeks with the same magnetism as Nebbiolo.

Piedmont is arguably Italy’s grandest wine region with a vibrant wine and food culture based on small artisan producers and eclectic cuisine influenced by centuries of foreign takeovers.

Barolo and Barbaresco have claim to some of Italy’s most valuable wine real estate, and it’s there that Nebbiolo rules.

Though Barolo wines command more attention (and higher prices) thanks to their bolder, palate-pounding personalities, the lighter tannic profiles massaged to perfection in Barbaresco make them more universally appealing. Just remember, if you ask an Italian for directions to Nebbiolo, he’s going to point you in the direction of a glass.


Fresh, funny and down-to-earth, Peter Rockwell is the everyman's wine writer. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia he's worked in the liquor industry for over 30 years and has written about wine, spirits & beer since graduating from the School of Journalism at the University of King's College in 1986. His reviews and feature articles have been published in Tidings, Vines, Occasions, Where and on Alliant.net to name a few; he has been a weekly on-air wine feature columnist for both CBC-TV and Global Television and his wine column 'Liquid Assets' appeared weekly in two of Nova Scotia's daily newspapers, 'The Halifax Daily News' and 'The Cape Breton Post.' Today Peter's irreverent answer man column 'Bon Vivant' appears each month in Tidings Magazine and his weekly 'Liquid Assets' column is published across Canada in editions of the METRO newspaper. When not drinking at home, and at work, Peter travels the globe looking for something to fill his glass and put into words.

Comments are closed.

North America's Top Food & Drink Magazine

Get Quench-ed!!!

Life never tasted any better.