Barbera is the third most widely planted red grape variety in Italy though it is most common in the Asti and Alba regions. Barbera grapes produce rich, red wines with strong fruit flavors and aromas, especially black cherry. Other characteristics of wines made with Barbera grapes include low, mild tannins and high acidity which produces a crisp taste.
Barbera wines are traditionally aged in large casks which impart little oak flavor, but some today are aged in small French oak barrels, leading to strong oak flavors. Aging in smaller casks also imparts more tannins to the Barbera wines.
Vincent Gasnier writes in How To Choose Wine:
It is known as the “people’s wine” in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy, because it represents the greatest part of the normal daily wine consumption for the locals—and more than half of the area’s total red wine production. Wines made from the Barbera grape variety come in a wide variety of styles, from intense reds to a sparkling version called Verbesco. ...
I love the amazing diversity of Barbera wines from Piedmont, with each having its own character based on its particular place of origin. As the quality of these wines continues to improve, I’m beginning to get really excited by their complexity and elegance, as well as enjoying their straightforward approach. They have a fleshy texture and ripe fruit flavors, and an acidity that gives them a special freshness.