All about Barolo wine

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Barolo is the King of italian wines.

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Barolo wine: What you have to know

A harmonious red wine

Barolo is a still wine, with a pronounced garnet colour and intense aroma of fruity and floral notes. Its taste is dry, full and persistent

It pairs red meats and cheeses

It well accompanies raised and roasted red meats, it can be matched with seasoned cheese as well as with dry pastry after a meal

Only Nebbiolo grapes

It is made exclusively from the Nebbiolo grape, produced in the northern Italian region of Piedmont

DOCG - Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin

Each bottle has an identifying purple seal on the neck bearing the mark of the Italian state

Aged at least three years

In order to become a Barolo, the wine must age at least 38 months, 18 of which in wood barrels

The best choices

Barolo wines selected for any context and pairing

Barolo: the characteristics

Barolo is considered one of the greatest Italian wine, it is known as the King of wines and it is obtained exclusively from Nebbiolo grapes.
It originates in the heart of the Langhe, a few kilometres from the city of Alba, in the territory of 11 municipalities. These towns are located in a rural and vineyard landscape, accentuated by hillsides that have been shaped by the experience of the ancient wine families and surrounded by impressive medieval castles, including the Barolo castle, that gave the wine its name, now famous around the world.barolo in glass

Barolo is one of the great wines for ageing. It is one of those wines for which it is difficult to determine how many years it can remain in the bottle without losing its organoleptic characteristics. There are several factors that affect the maturation such as the year, the temperature of the cellar, darkness and dampness.

The main chemical and sensory characteristics of Barolo, regardless of the type or the additional indications, are those of a balanced wine:

  • the colour is a pronounced garnet red that, with ageing, has hints of orange;
  • it has a strong and distinctive smell
  • it has a dry, full and persistent taste
  • the minimum total alcohol content is 13% vol
  • it favours, depending on the evolutionary state, fruity and floral notes like violet and vanilla or tertiary notes like tar and spices
red wine barolo

Check out the Barolo glossary

How to serve the Barolo

The bottles in which DOCG Barolo wine is packaged and marketed must be of the form albeisa or should be, as per ancient custom and tradition, made of dark glass.
At the request of interested companies and for promotional purposes, it could be allowed the use of traditional containers of 6, 9, 12 and 15 litres, under specific authorisation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry policies.

The albeisa is a type of wine bottle. It takes its name from the city of Alba, in the Langhe. It was introduced at the beginning of the eighteenth century by Alba producers to distinguish their wine.


If it is a young Barolo, there is no need to pour the contents of the bottle into a carafe. If it is a vintage Barolo, it should be transferred to a jug with the utmost care to avoid turbidity. It should be “scaraffato” (transferred into a jug) before serving.

Serving temperature

Around 18 ° C (64 ° -65 ° F).
It must never be stored in the refrigerator.

The right glass

The Barolo glass must be large, paunchy, tulip-shaped and with a rather long stem of colourless crystal. For this usage, it was designed and manufactured the glass "Piedmont".

Barolo food and recipe pairing

Barolo prefers foods made from braised and roasted red meat, furred and feathered game (beef braised in Barolo, hare civet, jugged pheasant). It should be paired with sweet (or not spicy) and hard cheeses (Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano and Castelmagno) and, as an after dinner wine, it well accompanies dry pastry (maize biscuits - paste di meliga).

To be more specific, please find below a selection of the best and most important recipes of foods that highlight the best of the Barolo characteristics and that benefits from being accompanied by this important wine.

  • Roasted lamb
  • Woodcocks with juniper
  • Braised beef
  • Bruss of the Langhe
  • Emmenthal
  • Pheasant in cream sauce with truffles
  • Fillet of beef with red wine
  • Grilled beef fillet
  • Bantam chicken with mushroom
  • Grana Padano
  • Gruyere
  • Montasio cheese
  • Roasted goose
  • Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Pecorino romano
  • Sbrinz
  • Scimudin
  • Mousse of hare or pheasant or duck
  • Stewed beef with Barbaresco
  • Braised donkey
  • Pot of chicken liver / Terrine de volaille
  • Tournedos Rossini

Why it is important to match the right food with Barolo

After each bite of the same food, the taste buds send weaker and weaker signals to the brain, so we appreciate that food in a gradually less intense way. Therefore it is important to match the right wine, so that it makes a "perfect cleansing" of the mouth, matching the food harmoniously and making sure that every bite is as good as the first.

barolo and food

When to serve the Barolo

During a meal it is important the order in which the wines are served. As a consequence one can understand when Barolo should be served and allow the wine to manifest the most of its quality.
The meal should always starts with the younger wines to end up with the older ones and it is important to serve lighter wines first, and then the strongest. As a general rule you have to go from the cooler wine to that at room temperature and this means that white wines are served before red wines. It is recommended to serve dry wines before the “abboccato” ones (i.e. sweeter) and the most prestigious at the end: that is the moment when Barolo, the king of wines, should make its entrance.

Barolo label: how to read it

Barolo is subjected to a minimum ageing period of 38 months, including 18 months in wooden barrels, with effect from the first of November of the year of harvest; Barolo is allowed to be marketed only from the first of January of the fourth year following the harvest.

A Barolo is called “Riserva” (Reserve) if the wine is left ageing at least 62 months (while keeping unchanged the month in wood barrels and the starting date).
Barolo Riserva is allowed to be marketed only from the first of January of the sixth year following the harvest.

barolo bottle

On the wine label it is mandatory to have the indication of the year the grapes were grown. The wine is aged in wooden barrels because this is where the important processes of ageing and gas exchanges take place through the wood and the fermenting must. Choosing the type of wood and the size of the barrel is left to the experience of the winemaker: usually barrels of medium / large oak are used.

The soil type has always played an important role in the viticulture of the region but also the location of the vineyard; the Barolo and Barolo Riserva denomination can also have specific Additional Geographical Mention (Menzione Geografica Aggiuntiva) to indicate smaller areas within the same denomination. These are established only if they are sufficiently large, with enough winemakers and if they differ in terms of characteristics. Below the indications approved in 2010:
Albarella, Altenasso o Garblet Suè o Garbelletto Superiore, Annunziata, Arborina, Arione, Ascheri, Bablino, Badarina, Baudana, Bergeisa, Bergera-Pezzole, Berri, Bettolotti, Boiolo, Borzone, Boscareto, Boscatto, Boschetti, Brandini, Brea, Breri, Bricco Ambrogio, Bricco Boschis, Bricco Chiesa, Bricco Cogni, Bricco delle Viole, Bricco Luciani, Bricco Manescotto, Bricco Manzoni, Bricco Rocca, Bricco Rocche, Bricco San Biagio, Bricco San Giovanni, Bricco San Pietro, Bricco Voghera, Briccolina, Broglio, Brunate, Brunella, Bussia, Campasso, Cannubi, Cannubi Boschis o Cannubi, Cannubi Muscatel o Cannubi, Cannubi San Lorenzo o Cannubi, Cannubi Valletta o Cannubi, Canova, Capalot, Cappallotto, Carpegna, Case Nere, Castagni, Castellero, Castelletto, Castello, Cerequio, Cerrati, Cerretta, Cerviano-Merli, Ciocchini, Ciocchini-Loschetto, Codana, Collaretto, Colombaro, Conca, Corini-Pallaretta, Costabella, Coste di Rose, Coste di Vergne, Crosia, Damiano, del comune di Barolo, del comune di Castiglione Falletto, del comune di Cherasco, del comune di Diano d'Alba, del comune di Grinzane Cavour, del comune di La Morra, del comune di Manforte d'Alba, del comune di Novello, del comune di Roddi, del comune di Serralunga d’Alba, del comune di Verduno, Drucà, Falletto, Fiasco, Fontanafredda, Fossati, Francia, Gabutti, Galina, Gallaretto Garretti, Gattera, Giachini, Gianetto, Ginestra, Gramolere, Gustava, La Corte, La Serra, La Vigna, La Volta, Lazzarito, Le Coste, Le Coste di Monforte, Le Turne, Lirano, Liste, Manocino, Mantoetto, Marenca, Margheria, Mariondino o Monriondino o Bricco Moriondino, Massara, Meriame, Monprivato, Monrobiolo di Bussia, Montanello, Monvigliero, Mosconi, Neirane, Ornato, Paiagallo, Panerole, Parafada, Parussi, Pernanno, Perno, Piantà, Pira, Pisapola, Prabon, Prapò, Preda, Pugnane, Ravera, Ravera di Monforte, Raviole, Riva Rocca, Rivassi, Rive, Rivette, Rocche dell’Annunziata, Rocche dell'Olmo, Rocche di Castiglione, Rocchettevino, Rodasca, Roere di Santa Maria, Roggeri, Roncaglie, Ruè, San Bernardo, San Giacomo, San Giovanni, San Lorenzo, San Lorenzo di Verduno, San Pietro, San Ponzio, San Rocco, Santa Maria, Sant’Anna, Sarmassa, Scarrone, Serra, Serra dei Turchi, Serradenari, Silio, Solanotto, Sorano, Sottocastello di Novello, Teodoro, Terlo, Torriglione, Valentino, Vignane, Vignarionda, Vignolo, Villero, Zoccolaio, Zonchetta, Zuncai.

Finally, we have a further optional mention Vigna (Vineyard) followed by its name, in addition to the Additional Geographical Mention.

The Barolo is also used for production of different alcoholic products, such as Barolo Chinato. The latter is an aromatic wine with an alcohol content between 16 and 17 degrees, produced by adding sugar and ethyl alcohol to the Barolo in which different spices were previously placed in slow maceration and at room temperature. These spices (once called “drugs”) include the cinchona bark, rhubarb and gentian roots and cardamom seeds, after it follows approximately one year of ageing in barrels.
Thanks to its aromatic content and sweet-sour taste, the Barolo Chinato today is used as an elegant late meal wine and as a wine for "meditation."

Land and variety of Barolo

Geographic area

The Barolo was born in Italy in the Piedmont region, in a well-defined territory of about 1,800 hectares which includes eleven municipalities - the land of the "Langhe del Barolo" (Barolo, Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d'Alba and part of the municipalities of La Morra, Monforte d'Alba, Roddi, Verduno Cherasco, Diano d'Alba, Novello and Grinzane Cavour).

In the area there are many places linked to the production of Barolo, among which there are historical wineries that contributed to the birth and development of this wine, such as Fontanafredda estates that belonged to the Royal House of Savoy and the Falletti di Barolo family estates.

The medieval villages of Barolo, Castiglione Falletto and Serralunga d'Alba are characterized by their castles in excellent condition around which urban centres have developed and now represent important visual and identity heritage references.
On June 22, 2014, during the 38th session of the UNESCO Committee, the area has been officially included in the list of "World Heritage property”.


The grape variety of the Barolo

The starting vine is exclusively the Nebbiolo, a red grape variety present almost exclusively in this region, in the sub varieties of "Michet", "Lampia" and "Rosé".
According to some, the name derives from “nebbia" (“fog” in Italian), as for the abundant pruina/bloom its grapes seem almost “foggy” (the dusty looking coating on the skin of grapes). According to others, however, the name would be related to the late ripening of the grapes, which often corresponds to the time of the autumn mists.

The grapes produced are of high quality especially for the completeness of all the features: good balance between colour, body, acidity, persistent and volatile aromas, alcoholic strength. It is therefore a grape suited to be vinified alone to produce wine that is defined "nobile" with a great body, after proper ageing.

The plant sprouts early, generally within the first ten days of April, and ripens late in the first and third week of October. These aspects make it a difficult grape and particularly exposed to various risks due to the weather. During the summer months it is necessary to carry out operations of thinning and trimming, being a very vigorous vine variety.

Crops are present on the hillsides well exposed to the sun, between 200 and 450 meters above sea-level.

nebbiolo bunch

Wine and nomenclature

Barolo is a wine with a Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin (DOCG).
This is an Italian trademark that is attributed to wines of particular value in relation to their intrinsic qualities and who have acquired fame and wide commercial distribution, nationally and internationally.

nebbiolo grapes

Therefore, the Barolo, besides having to be produced in a given geographical area, must follow a particular specification and must undergo a series of inspections by the competent authorities during the entire production cycle.

wine cellar in langhe

Finally, prior to marketing, a final sensory analysis is performed by an expert committee appointed by the Ministry of Agriculture to determine whether the wine can be called Barolo. In case of positive result, a certain amount of DOCG labels with the emblem of the Italian state, is delivered to the manufacturer and must be applied to the neck of each bottle.

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