image from ITS Malta

The Barbera grape originates from Piedmont, in northern Italy and is a high acid grape that possesses some of the characteristics of Cabernet Sauvignon, but overall, lacks the finesse of Cabernet. It produces wines of generally medium to full body, moderate tannins and a deep garnet colour and is commonly used as a blending grape to add acidity to wines that lack it.
Although globally cultivated, the Barbera gives its best in northern Italy, where it goes into the making of most notably, Barbera d'Asti, Barbera di Alba and Barbera di Monferato. In warmer regions, it develops less acid and more sugar and can thus be too alcoholic. 

In Italy, it has so far, played second fiddle to the venerable Nebbiolo, though it has far more plantings than the latter. Outside of Italy, Barbera varietals are rare, though Californian vintners are beginning to pay this grape some attention and are creating Barbera varietals of some note.

The high acid of this grape makes wines that go very well with tomato based dishes and even hearty, tomato-based preparations of fish and shellfish.