Barolo wine and Barbaresco wine – what is the difference?

Ask wine lovers to name the two most popular Italian wines and they will not hesitate to answer two seemingly similar but, on closer inspection, completely different wines made from the same grape variety «Nebbiolo»: Barolo and Barbaresco.

Let’s find out how to tell them apart.

The history of winemaking.

Barolo became famous in the 19 th century.

At the end of 1850, the first Barolo winemaker harvested Nebbiolo grapes in order to modify the flavor of the already famous wine. The purpose of the modification was to add sweetness and fruitiness to the flavor, similar to Portwein.

As time went by, the influential winemakers gained experience and decided to make a completely opposite version of their favorite wine, making it more acidic.

Surprisingly, it was this taste that made Barolo «The King of Italian wines».

Barbaresco, on the other hand, did not become known to wine lovers until 1894, when it rapidly gained popularity and was almost forgotten by the middle of the 20 th century.

The serious consequences of the global upheavals did not help to revive the spirit of wine. Once prosperous wineries could barely make ends meet, but the situation changed dramatically after 1950.

The younger generation of winemakers, tired of the hardships of war and ruin, presented Barbaresco to the public in a completely new light.

Wine lovers from all over the world began to talk again about the unique red wine that stands at the top of the list of Italian wines.

The land where the grapes grow.

Although the same Nebbiolo grape is used to make Barolo and Barbaresco, it grows in different areas.

Nebbiolo for Barolo loves the dry, infertile soils that the Helvetia region is rich in.

In complete contrast, Nebbiolo for Barbaresco prefers moist, fertile soils.

Fewer and cheaper – Often and expensive.

According to annual statistics, more than 14 million bottles of Barolo are produced.

In contrast to these, it is astonishing that Barbaresco notwithstanding its popularity, does not exceed 4.5 million bottles per year.

It is not surprising that wine lovers are on the hunt for this red wine, which is more affordable when comparing prices on the international and domestic wine markets.


Good wine should be infused before use. This is another difference between Italian wines: Barbaresco is infused more quickly than Barolo.

Barbaresco wine needs to be aged for more than 2 years (one of the most expensive varieties of this wine – Barbaresco Reserva, requires at least 4 years of agening).

Barolo wine must be aged for more than 3 years (one of the most expensive varieties of this wine – Barolo Reserva, requires 5 years of agening).

Even after purchase, exposure plays a role.

Barbaresco should be drunk immediately after purchase, while Barolo can be kept for some time in the cellar.

Despite the differences in history and production, both wines have attracted wine lovers from all over the world for centuries.