The great wine and grammar debate – barbera

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I have been corrected – that it’s “IL barbera”, not “la”. I have heard that barbera is definitely female, to the point where there is even a book “La Barbera è femmina”, by Marzia Pinotti (I’ve yet to read it). Recently, on day two at the Grandi Langhe fair, I attended the afternoon session on “The historical vines revived between myth and new business opportunities” in which one partecipant insisted again that Barbera is definitely female.

So as I helped (or hindered) my friend in pruning in the Bussia cru vineyard of Monforte d’Alba, struggling with the twisting vigour of Barbera, I put the question to him. Is it il Barbera, or la Barbera?

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He said, good question, and then gave me quite a nice explanation of “la uva Barbera” but “il vino Barbera”, unless you’re in the Asti barbera region where it’s definitely female.

I am going to stick with the above although it’s curious that when conducting cellar tours and wine tastings last year, I found that often the Barbera was quite a feminine wine, that also appealed to the female palate. Could there be a connection? I’ll have to read the book to find out.

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