by Tom Bivins, Executive Director, Vermont Cheese Council
Despite an undeserved reputation for sweetness (mostly due to an unhealthy American obsession with White Zinfandel in the 80s and 90s,) most really great rosés are dry or off-dry with a hint of berry and mineral, making them a great match for Vermont cheeses. The grapes used to make rosé wines range from Grenache to Malbec to Pinot Noir and Syrah. The grape juice rests on the skins for a few hours or overnight to produce the sunset hue of rosé wine, ranging from salmon pink to the deep pink of a fully bloomed peony. The wines are generally fruit forward and are reminiscent of late spring fruits – such as strawberry or cherry – and are both tart and refreshing. There are great French rosés from Tavel, Bandol, and Cotes de Provence; but the United States – including Vermont wineries – is also making lovely rosé wines.
Rosé is a great wine to consume in the spring. It’s lighter than the big reds we consume throughout the winter, and is lighter than
the barely there white wines that we find so refreshing at the peak of summer. It’s also perfect for some of the great fresh goat milk cheeses being produced here in Vermont in the spring. Try it with a classic like the Vermont Creamery Coupole, or one of the great cheeses from Lazy Lady Farm like Bonaparte, or serve it with a simple chèvre lightly flavored with fresh chopped garden herbs, from Willow Moon Farm or Hildene. Or try a bit of Twig Farm’s Fuzzy Wheel for a blast of flavor.
Other cheeses that would work well with a rosé include cow’s milk cheeses like Jasper Hill Farms Moses Sleeper or Blythedale Farm’s Vermont Brie or von Trapp Farmstead’s Mt. Alice. All of these would pair beautifully with a locally produced rosé, and point out the earthy, mineral qualities of both the wine and the cheese. If you prefer an aged cheese, you can’t go wrong with Vermont Shepherd Invierno, a fantastic sheep’s milk cheese; or try with Spring Brook Farm’s Ashlyn.
Shopping List: Summer Rosé and Vermont Cheeses
• Fresh Tracks Farm Little Piggy Pink Vermont – $13.99
• North Branch Vineyards Miss Maeve Vermont – $14.99
• Meinklang Pinot Noir Rosé Frizzante Austria – $17.99
• Castelfeder Lagrein Rosato Italy – $16.99
• Crios Malbec Rosé Argentina – $12.99
• Bieler Père et Fils Rosé France – $9.99
• Vermont Creamery Coupole
• Lazy Lady Farm Bonaparte
• Twig Farm Fuzzy Wheel
• Jasper Hill Farm Moses Sleeper
• von Trapp Farmstead Mt. Alice
• Blythedale Farm Vermont Brie