Authentic Italian tiramisu with Barbera wine

Combining wine with dessert? Sign me up! We're making tiramisu with barbera wine.

I’m using Barbera wine because it’s a common wine used in Piedmont Italy that is both enjoyed by the glass and added to cooking and desserts. The reason why Barbera wine pairs so well, in this case, is there are notes of dark cherry, dried berries, plum, vanilla, nutmeg and anise – all things that also pair well with chocolate and coffee. As odd as it seems, wine is an excellent addition to this classical dessert. Other Italian Reds that would work here: Primitivo, Sangiovese, Dolcetto or Nebbiolo,  or if you prefer to skip the wine, you can still make this recipe by subbing for all espresso.

To make your own sponge cake, check out this recipe!


  1. We start with a sponge cake! I learned that instead of lady fingers or other cookies, in this region they use sponge cake instead for a nice rich flavour. Sponge cake can easily be purchased at your local grocery store.
  2.  Take your sponge cake and slice it into 3: 1×31/2” rectangles.
  3. Then we’re going to jump ahead straight to our tiramisu filling. Combine the Barberra wine, warm espresso, and two tablespoons of cane sugar in a shallow dish. Mix until the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Next, we will use the whisk attachment and whip together mascarpone, cane sugar, cream, vanilla, and salt until the mixture holds firm peaks.
  5. I’m not using a standard zabaglione and whipped cream here; we remove the zabaglione because the sponge cake provides enough richness. So a simple mascarpone and whipped cream are enough.
  6. Using an 8” round or square serving tray, layer in 1 layer of sliced cake, dipped in the wine and coffee mixture. They should be heavily soaked.
  7. Spread half the whipped mascarpone mixture over the first layer of soaked cake. Repeat once more.
  8. Dust the top layer of cream with cocoa powder and then generously grate over some dark chocolate.
  9. This is best served when made the day prior; otherwise, chill for 1 – 2 hours before serving.
  10.  You may store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5