The key etiquette considerations on how to serve and drink Barolo. Rules to be the ideal host or the perfect guest at the dining table.

Vineyards near Barolo

What Barolo etiquette is

Barolo etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and drink Barolo. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow Barolo etiquette to appropriately serve it to your guests.

If you are a guest, respect Barolo etiquette rules to properly drink and enjoy it.

What you should know about Barolo

Barolo is a red wine. It is produced in the Piedmont region in North-West Italy. Barolo is a DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata Garantita) wine.

Barolo is made from Nebbiolo grapes. Its aging period must be of at least 36 months. It is light red in color and lacks opacity.

how to serve and drink Barolo

Etiquette tips to serve and drink Barolo

1) How to store Barolo

Store Barolo in a cool and dry place. The temperature should be constant. 

Place the bottles in a horizontal position. Keep them away from sources of heat. The bottles should not be exposed to direct light, natural or artificial. 

Do not store Barolo in the fridge or in the freezer.

After opening it, you should drink a bottle of Barolo within 3 or 4 days.

2) How to prepare Barolo

Barolo benefits from decanting. The contact with the oxygen makes the texture and bouquet of the wine more gentle to the palate.

Before serving, pour the full bottle of wine into a decanter. Leave it there to breathe. The amount of time needed for decanting depends on the vintage and on personal tastes. As a general rule, keep Barolo in a decanter for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Do not refrigerate Barolo before serving.

3) How to serve & present Barolo

Serve Barolo at room temperature. The ideal temperature is around 20°C (70°F). Cooler temperatures prevent Barolo from releasing its full bouquet.

Present Barolo in the decanter or in its bottle. Serving Barolo in its bottle can be a more elegant solution. After decanting, pour it back into the bottle using a small kitchen funnel.

Hold the bottle by its body, never by its neck or cork. Serve Barolo in red wine glasses, which have a larger belly compared to white wine glasses. Fill the glass between ⅓ and ½.

4) When to serve & drink Barolo

Barolo is an important wine. It is most appropriate for a formal occasion, such as a formal dinner party.

Barolo is not an everyday wine. It is not common as an aperitivo or for pre-meal drinks. It is best to avoid serving it on informal occasions, such as a barbecue.

Serve it to accompany an important, rich-taste course during a meal. Alternatively, serve it after a meal.

5) Food & aromas to pair Barolo with

Pair Barolo with courses rich in flavor and in protein.

Barolo pairs best with meat, especially red meat. Barolo goes well with flavor-rich risotto and pasta. It matches well with mushrooms or truffles. It goes well with strong or aged cheese. Such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, or Gorgonzola.

Avoid pairing Barolo with very salty or spicy food. Never drink Barolo with pizza.

Do not pair it with delicate food. Such as fish, seafood, fresh cheeses, or steamed vegetables. With desserts, instead of Barolo, you should serve a Barolo Chinato.

6) How to drink Barolo

Drink Barolo in red wine chalices. Barolo needs a wider glass to release its bouquet. 

Hold the glass by its stem to avoid warming the wine with your hand.

Drink it in small sips. Barolo is considered a meditation wine. Thus, a glass of Barolo should last between 15 and 30 minutes.

Never drink shots of Barolo.

Never add ice to Barolo. First, ice waters down the wine and its bouquet. Furthermore, ice is usually added to low-quality or cheap beverages. Thus, adding ice to Barolo can be seen as an offense to the quality of the wine, and therefore to your host.

Barolo etiquette worst mistakes

Barolo etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst Barolo etiquette mistakes. 

  • 10/10. Getting drunk.
  • 7/10. Drinking shots of Barolo.
  • 7/10. Serving Barolo chilled or cold.
  • 7/10. Pairing Barolo with delicate flavors.
  • 7/10. Adding ice to Barolo.
  • 6/10. Not holding the glass by the stem. 

Additional information for properly serving Barolo

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and to correctly plan a menu.

Barolo contains around 80 calories per 100 ml (3.5 oz). An individual serving is a red wine glass of 150 ml (5 oz). It contains 121 calories.

How to buy the best Barolo

A crucial factor in Barolo etiquette is to serve the best product possible to your guests.

Choose the best

Barolo must have a DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata Garantita) mark on its label. DOCG is the Italian certification that guarantees the quality and the production methods.

In general, aged Barolo tends to be more valuable. Barolo is aged at least 3 years. Barolo aged for over 5 years is labeled as Riserva. Properly stored, a bottle of Barolo can last for many decades.

Alternatives to Barolo

As a substitute to Barolo, consider wines from the same region and grape variety. Such as Barbaresco or Nebbiolo.