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Italian Craft Wines for Christmas

Posted on 20 November 2017

We have some straight-talking Christmas wine advice from Franco Roero, a fourth-generation winemaker from Piedmont. His family have been producing Barbera since 1894 and he knows all there is to know about wine (and Juventus, but that’s another story).

Ciao a tutti,

My name is Franco Roero from Montegrosso d'Asti, near Turn in Piedmont. I'm the fourth generation of my family to produce Barbera wine. My son, Gianluca, is studying Agriculture at Turin University and is all set to be the fifth, so you could say that my family has red wine in our veins!

In this part of North-West Italy, we are on high land rising towards the Alps, so we have a more temperate climate than most of the country. The snow and frost we get in the winter provides natural hydration and pest control, so we can grow Barbera grapes without pesticides and with minimal irrigation. It also means we have excellent pastures for cows, and the best beef in Italy.

My family has just 15 hectares of vineyards and how we make wine has not changed much since my great-grandfather started in 1894. Most of our Barbera goes to nearby restaurants and to locals, who come and collect it in person, armed with empty containers. Autumn is our busiest season, and every year I hire three of four people to help me harvest our grapes, which is all done by hand. Winters are much quieter and cold; they give us time to enjoy long family meals of roast beef or pork and chestnuts. Barbera has high acidity, so it is wonderful with these rich roast meats Piedmont is famous for. So, if you’re having duck or roast beef over Christmas, Barbera is the perfect choice.

I understand in Britain you normally eat roast turkey at Christmas, just as they do down in Le Marche. Barbera would overpower the taste of white meat or fish, so it’s better if you choose an aromatic white wine from that region. I would suggest Verdicchio, perhaps Italy's finest white grape. I don’t need to tell you which is the finest red grape!

But whatever you choose, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas,


We’re giving away a 2.25L box of Franco’s Barbera and a fabulous Verdicchio from Federico Mencaroni. thanks to When in Rome, a craft Italian wine importer based in the Cotswolds – the only British wine company that Franco works with. Like much of the wine drunk on the continent, it comes in boxes: it's cheaper to produce and transport, better for the environment, and more practical, as your money is going on the wine, not the packaging. Boxes keep the wine fresh for six weeks after opening. See the post on our Facebook page to enter. We’ll pick a winner at random on 1st December.

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