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Deep Dive

Nebbiolo: The Oenologists’ Expert Guide

8 Mins read
two glasses of red Nebbiolo wine with a balsamic vinegar at the middle

Nebbiolo is a grape variety native to the region of Piedmont, Italy. It is highly prized for its complexity and depth of flavor, often referred to as “the king of Italian grapes.” Due to its unique characteristics, Nebbiolo has become one of the most sought-after grapes in winemaking. Barolo is one of the wines produced from Nebbiolo grapes.

Check out this article to learn more about Nebbiolo or “Nebb”!

a rack of red Nebbiolo wines stacked together and one being taken

What is Nebbiolo?

Nebb is a finicky grape that requires careful handling and specific terroir to produce high quality wines. The Nebbiolo wine is characterized by high acidity and tannins, which makes them difficult to work with, but also gives Nebb its distinct flavor profile. Nebbiolo wines tend to be bold, full-bodied and intensely aromatic.

Nebb’scharacter can vary depending on the region it is grown in and the wine grapes used to make it. Nebbiolo wines are made with the Nebbiolo Grape, a variety of the cabernet sauvignon, from the Langhe hills of Piedmont are typically light and floral in aroma with flavors of red berry, licorice and tar. Those that are from other parts of Italy such as Valtellina or Val d’Aosta may be darker and more tannic, with distinctive flavors of leather and tobacco.

Nebbiolo wines are also known for their longevity. The Nebbiolo grapes are also used to make Nebb-based wines and docg wines like the Barolo docg.

Where does this grape variety come from?

Nebbiolo’s origins lead back to the region of Piedmont, Italy. Nebb grape has been cultivated there for centuries and its popularity continues to grow as it becomes more well-known internationally. Nebbiolo grapes are harvested in late October and early November each year.

It is a finicky grape, which has made international production difficult. Some plantings can be found in California, Australia and Argentina, but the true home of Nebb today is Piedmont, in particular the Barolo and Barbaresco appellations. Other northern Italian regions like Lombardy and Valle d’Aosta also have significant Nebb production.

Wines made with Nebb display potent flavors and scents, which may come across as severe to some. These wines also have immense potential to age well due to their natural composition. When young, cherries, plums, strawberries and floral aromas like rose or violet are typically most prominent. You might also catch whiffs of leather, licorice or herbs in the younger years Wine makers enjoy aged versions for their developed tannins marked by a brick hue; other fruity notes take on more of a drying quality while gamey smells reminiscent of mushrooms often arise – sometimes even truffles!

two glasses of red Nebbiolo wine together on a kitchen counter

Nebbiolo is often referred to as “the king of Italian grapes” due to its complexity and depth of flavor. Nebb wines are made from a vineyard that ensures its bright, spicy and full-bodied taste with notes of red fruit, tar, leather and tobacco. Nebb wines have the potential to age gracefully, developing earthy aromas and tertiary flavors over time. Nebbiolo’s tannins also tend to mellow out over time, making them more approachable for younger drinkers.

Nebbiolo has become one of the most sought-after grapes in winemaking due to its unique characteristics – a combination of boldness, complexity and longevity that’s rare among other grape varieties. According to most wine connoiseurs, Nebbiolo tastes like the exact wine you will look forward to in a romantic dinner. It is lightly colored, as an additional fact.

How do I pronounce Nebbiolo?

Nebbiolo wine is pronounced “neb-bee-OH-loh”. You can also refer to Nebbiolo simply as Nebb or Neb. It came from the Italian word which means “fog.” It is also known as Nebbiolo d’alba in some wine regions. Winemakers call it Nebb to make it shorter, such as those who create it using the traditional approach and late ripening methods to reach the ideal acidity level.

Top examples of Nebbiolos from Italy include the Valtellina Superiore (fro mthe Valtellina Region, near the Lombardy Region), Barbaresco docg (from Northern Italy), Barolo docg (from the Barolo zone; and other Barolo docg variants), Langhe Nebbiolo (from the Langhe Region and Piedmont), and other wines that that have floral notes made on regions that grow Nebbiolo that have the same weather and soil types as Washington State and California’s central coast and hills (near the right bank and left bank of the Tanaro River and Sesia River). Usually, these are grown in a vineyard like the ones in the West Coast with high sea level.

How do I serve a wine made from these grapes?

A Nebbiolo wine is best served slightly chilled, around 54-57 degrees Fahrenheit. Nebbiolo can be enjoyed on its own or paired with food such as roasted and braised meats, hard cheeses or dishes featuring truffles and mushrooms. Nebbiolos also go well with rich sauces like ragu alla bolognese or ragout of game meat. The Nebbiolo wine is a great choice for dinner parties as it pairs well with a variety of flavors and dishes! You can add ample amounts of savory Chinese dishes, olive oil, red fruits, black roses, red roses, star anise, truffle, wild mushrooms, a rose petal, and other grapes on the table if you have one! Don’t worry because it does not have a high feature fat, especially a Nebbiolo grown from traditional sites.

Also take a look at our guide on Amarone Della Valpolicella: A Wine Born By Mistake

What are some good Nebbiolo pairings?

Nebbiolo has good food pairings that suit well with many different dishes, depending on the style of Nebbiolo and the flavors in the dish. For Barolos and Barbarescos, try pairing Nebbiolo with braised or roasted meats like beef short ribs or pork shoulder. For Nebbiolos from other regions, such as Valtellina, Lombardy or Val d’Aosta, Nebbiolos pair perfectly with dishes that have bold flavors like game meats, truffle-based sauces or hard cheeses. Nebbiolo is also a great choice for dinner parties as it pairs well with a variety of flavors and dishes! These are usually those grapes harvested from calcareous marl soils like the Langhe Nebbiolo and Barbaresco docg from Northern Italy.

How long does it last?

Young Nebbiolos can be enjoyed for up to five years, while mature Nebbiolos can last much longer. Nebb wines are known for their ability to age gracefully and develop tertiary flavors with time in the bottle. Nebbiolo has a very high tannin content which helps it cellar well, allowing you to store Nebbiolo bottles for 10 to 20 years or even longer if stored properly. Nebbiolo is a great choice for those interested in cellaring wine as it has the potential to get better and more complex with age!

Where can I buy Nebbiolo?

Nebbiolo is widely available throughout the world, but most Nebb wines come from Italy. Nebbiolos from the Piedmont region are particularly popular among wine lovers due to their complexity and ability to age gracefully. Nebbiolos from other regions, such as Lombardy, Valtellina or Val d’Aosta, are also great options for those looking for an affordable Nebbiolo that does not need to be aged. Nebbiolo can typically be found at your local wine shop or online retailers such as Wine Searcher or Vivino! With its intense flavor and aging potential, Nebbiolo has earned recognition as one of the finest Italian grapes.

Red Nebbiolo wine being poured on an empty wine glass

There are many Nebbs to choose from, but some of the most highly regarded Nebbiolos come from the Piedmont region in Italy. Nebb wines from Barolo and Barbaresco are particularly sought-after for their complexity, depth of flavor and ability to age gracefully. Nebbiolos from other regions such as Valtellina, Lombardy or Val d’Aosta also tend to be very good values. Popular Nebbiolo producers include Prunotto, Gaja, Vietti, Sandrone, Cappellano and Giacosa.

How long does Nebbiolo age?

Nebb wines are known for their ability to age gracefully and develop tertiary flavors with time in the bottle. Nebbs can be enjoyed young, but they tend to get better and more complex with age. Young Nebbs can last up to five years, while mature Nebs can cellar up to 10-20 years or longer if stored properly. If you’re interested in cellaring Nebb wine, look out for bottles from Barolo and Barbaresco as these tend to have the most potential for aging. Check out our guide on how much sugar is in red wine.


What does Nebbiolo taste like?

Nebbiolo has an intense bouquet of aromas and flavors, including rose petals, tar, violets and truffles. Nebbiolos tend to have a high acidity and tannic structure along with notes of liquorice, pine resin, leather and earthiness. Nebb wines also have a hallmark Nebbiolo finish with notes of tar, smoke and dark fruit.

Is Nebbiolo similar to Pinot Noir?

Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir are both red grape varieties, but Nebbiolo is typically more tannic than Pinot Noir. Nebb wines tend to have a deep color, high acidity and intense bouquet of aromas, while Pinot Noir tends to be lighter and more delicate with notes of red fruit and earthiness. Nebbiolos also have the signature Nebbiolo finish that cannot be found in Pinot Noir. Thus, Nebbiolos and Pinots can pair well with different dishes depending on the flavors in the dish.

Is Nebbiolo wine sweet or dry?

Nebbiolo is typically a dry wine, although Nebbiolos with residual sugar can be found in some regions. Nebbiolos from the Piedmont region are usually dry and have high acidity and tannins. Nebbiolos from other regions such as Valtellina, Lombardy or Val d’Aosta tend to have lower tannins and may have some sweetness. Nebbiolos also pair well with food because of their complexity and depth of flavor.

No matter your preference, Nebb wines offer something for everyone – from intense aromas to age-worthy structure! With its complex flavors and potential for aging gracefully, Nebbiolo is sure to be a hit.

Is Nebbiolo the same as Barolo?

No, Nebbiolo and Barolo are not the same. Nebbiolo is a red grape variety that is grown in several regions throughout Italy, while Barolo is a DOCG appellation located in the Piedmont region of Italy. All Barolos must be made from 100% “Nebb” grapes, but not all Nebbiolos are made into Barolo wines. Many producers make Nebb wines outside of the Barolo DOCG appellation that can still be considered high-quality Nebbiolos. Nebbiolos from different regions tend to have their own unique characteristics, so it’s worth exploring different Nebbiolos to find your favorite!

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