Nebbiolo wines are not your everyday wines. Known for their complexity, aromas and flavours these wines are aged for years in the barrels and can further age for decades in the bottle. From the vines to the bottles, each step requires great care and attention. They may be expensive but are worth every penny spent.

Nebbiolo Cheat Sheet

The first time I took notice of the Barolo and Barbaresco wines was on a TV show about Italy.

Since then, each time I heard of Barolo and Barbaresco wines, they were always mentioned with great reverence. And when I finally tried it, I completely understood the fuss!

Extremely light on the nose with aromas of rose and tar, it was great on the palate. Grippy tannins, lovely flavours, and when paired with the correct food, it was something beyond my imagination. My fascination with food and wine pairing also started around the same time. I was spellbound by the change in flavours a sip of wine could make to the food and vice versa.

The reason I am talking about these specific wines is that both of them are made from the Nebbiolo grape variety. Mostly grown in the Piedmont region of Italy (and rarely ever grown outside of Italy!), it produces light-coloured wines, almost brick orange when aged, with light floral aromas but don’t be fooled. It is big, bold, tannic and acidic on the palate. And it definitely needs food.

One of the last grapes to be harvested, in October, the grape variety probably gets its name from the Italian ‘nebbia’ meaning fog, after the intense fog that sets into the region where many Nebbiolo vineyards are located. 

Or it may have been named after the Italian word ‘nobile’, meaning noble. It sure has a noble attitude and needs special attention and care in the vineyard as well as the winery. They need years of ageing in the barrel, as well as the bottle, to round off the tannins and balance the favours. 

The resulting wine is definitely fit for a king!

Other Italian wines made from Nebbiolo are Roero, Gattinara, Carema, Ghemme, Langhe Nebbiolo, Nebbiolo d’Alba, Valtellina, Lombardy and Fara. These wines have flavours of tar, violet, roses, cherry, anise, coffe, leather, earth, and raspberry.

If you like bold, full-body, aromatic red wines, you must try a Nebbiollo wine.

Nebbiolo Food Pairing

Food and wine are paired to bring about a balance on the palate. The best way to pair bold wines is to match the texture, body and flavours of the wine with that of the food.

Given the high tannins in Nebbiolo, hearty food, and steaks, pair well with it; but care must also be taken to not dilute the delicate aromas and flavours of the wine with overpowering herbs and sauces.

Earthy, simple, rustic Italian food with lots of olive oil and cheese is the best. For vegetarians, there are many options, from truffle risotto, butternut ravioli, to mushroom lasagna and hearty pizzas, there is plenty for everyone. Some food recommendations with Nebbiolo wines are :

1.Pork chops- The fat succulent cuts will match the grippy tannins in the wine. 
2.Butternut Ravioli- It is a great match for the texture and flavour of the Nebbiolo wines.The tannins cut through the creamy sauce to bring out the flavours of the ravioli.
3.Parmigiano Cheese- This aged flavourful cheese complements the bold flavourful wines.
4.Lasagna – Mushroom or Meat, both fillings will match the flavours of the wine and the different layers will complement the smooth texture of the wine.

Have you tried a wine made with Nebbiolo grapes?

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