Living in a one wine world

If the world could only have one wine, what should it be?

This question came up after my boyfriend announced that he could live in a one beer world if the beer on tap was a specific German or Czech beer. Ungespundet Naturtrüb by Mahr’s Bräu is currently the beer of choice in his one beer world.

But when we turned the question around for wine, we both just thought, “Barbera”. Then my brother also agreed to live in a Barbera-only world. Who knew we were all secret Barbera lovers?

I like Barbera and often keep it around the house as an easy table wine. It’s high in acidity and goes down well with many delicious foods like pizza.

The high-yielding grape is also apparently easy to grow. Barbera is the third most planted Italian red wine grape in Italy after Sangiovese and Montepulciano and is found in every region in the country and in countries throughout the world.

But it’s not all easy-drinking either. There are high-end Barberas too. At least since the early 1980s when Giacomo Bologna first aged high-quality Barbera in oak to produce the Barbera d’Asti Bricco dell’Uccellone for the Braida label.

I bought a bottle and served it last weekend with Brasato al Barolo, a braised beef-dish cooked in red wine and rum, from the northern Italian region of Piedmont. While Barbera is ubiquitous in the modern wine world, it is generally agreed that it finds its best expression in Piedmont where the Braida winery is also located.

The high acidity in this full-bodied and deeply colored wine went well with the rich meat dish. But Barbera can also be high in alcohol and this wine was no exception with an abv of 16%. That’s strong. Too strong for the rum in the dish.

Which is fine. As the Bricco dell’Uccellone is expensive and I’d much rather save it for the occasional indulgence and keep Braida’s cheaper Barbera d’Asti Monte Bruna around instead. It’s still high in alcohol at 14.5% but costs a lot less and is easier for every day drinking.

I’m also partial to the Barbera’s of Renato Ratti and tend to keep them on hand, both the Barbera d’Alba and the Barbera d’Asti. They are more moderate in alcohol. It’s also the first Barbera I shared with future classmates at a local bar when I arrived in Piedmont for cooking school so I’m always happy to see the familiar soldier on the label.

To be fair, Barbera was also our gut response to the one wine question. With a bit more thought, I might even go with the French Châteauneuf-du-Pape as it is a blend that can be made with 13 different grape varieties, including both red and white grapes. The question limited us to one wine, not to one grape, and we might as well keep our options open as wide as possible.

My boyfriend also insists that if there was no beer in this one wine world, he would need to choose a white wine and my brother leaned toward an age-worthy Barbaresco as his alternative choice.

What do you think? If there could only be one wine in the world which wine should it be?

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