variants or Barbera
plural barberas or Barberas
: an acidic, dark red wine originally produced in Italy

Note: Barberas are now also produced in California, Australia, Argentina, and elsewhere.

The softer wines wimped out, but all the crispy, tart ones fared beautifully, especially the BarberaHarvey Steiman, Wine Spectator, 15 Mar. 1993
also : the grape from which this wine is made
Barbera is a flavorful red grape that is a favorite in the Piedmont region of Italy. Dorothy J. Gaiter et al., Wall Street Journal, 14 Apr. 2000

Word History


borrowed from Italian, "variety of dark grape, wine made from this grape," borrowed from Upper Italian (Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy), of uncertain origin

Note: Recorded as barbèla along with barbèra by Casimiro Zalli, Disionari Piemontèis, Italian, Latin e Fransèis (Carmagnola, 1815). Presumably ancestral to barbera are the forms berbesinus, barbexinus, etc., found in contracts from Montferrat dealing with the planting and raising of grapes (" … de bonis plantis berbexinis pl(e)antare et in uineam berbexinum alleuare … "), dating from 1246 to 1271 and preserved in the cathedral chapter archives of Casale Monferrato (see F. Gabotto and U. Fisso, editors, Le carte delle Archivio capitolare di Casale Monferrato fino al 1313, vol. 2, Pinerolo, 1908). The hypothesis of dissimilation (and assimilation to barba) from Latin albuēlis, a variety of vine cited by Columella (quoting Celsus) and Pliny (see Giovanni Alessio, Lingua Nostra, vol. 10 [1949], p. 17) does not seem very enticing.

First Known Use

1850, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of barbera was in 1850

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Cite this Entry

“Barbera.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jun. 2024.

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