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Pairing Vermont Wine and Cheese

Name a pairing more iconic than wine and cheese; we’ll wait.

Vermont cheese, bolstered by Vermont’s deep agricultural heritage, ripens every year, with Vermont cheesemakers racking up awards on national and global stages. Vermont winemakers’ pours pair perfectly with Green Mountain rinds, making an all-Vermont wine and cheese tasting less of an aspiration and more of a must. 

Sara Trivelpiece of Shelburne Farms notes that Vermont’s wine industry is growing quickly and from honest, delicious roots.

“The varieties themselves set Vermont apart from the broader wine world,” Trivelpiece said. “Cold hardy hybrids are newborns in the world of wine and Vermont is still a nascent industry. As a result, and by default, Vermont is an entirely new landscape to explore in terms of wine expression.

“What I think really sets Vermont apart now is the people and their approach to winegrowing. Most, if not all, producers grow the grapes they turn into wine. There's honesty and integrity to the work and responsible farming/winemaking is at the core,” Trivelpiece said.

Wine and cheese pairing
 
“At Dedalus we love curating ah-ha moments,” said Brittany Galbraith, director of education at Dedalus Wine Shop, Market and Wine Bar. “We obsess over creating those ah-ha moments at the dinner table, when the right combination seems to magically bring about a third dimension of flavor.

“For Vermont-grown wine and Vermont-made cheese, the adage ‘what grows together, goes together’ certainly applies, but if you look to the nuances of how flavor and texture work together, you can unearth even more possibilities,” Galbraith said.

1. Classic Vermont Flavors
For lovers of Vermont’s classic flavors, Galbraith recommends pairing hybrid apple-and-grape wines with classic cheddars, explaining that the salt in the cheese softens the acidity in the wine and elevates fruit flavors. 

“Experimental and terroir-obsessed winemakers have made blending and co-fermenting foraged, wild apples with hybrid grape varieties a thing. These dry, cider-like wines are delicious with cheddar, like Shelburne Farms Clothbound Cheddar! This English-style Cheddar evokes flavors that remind us of broth, like French onion soup; and, the fruity flavors and vibrant character of the wine are a great complement,” she said. “When these two items come together it can be reminiscent of the quintessential Vermont grilled cheese: farmhouse bread with melted cheddar and sliced apple.”

2. Goat Cheese Pairings
Another winner? Roses and floral whites and tangy, heavy goat cheese, says Galbraith.

“Their powerful floral and stone-fruit and tropical fruit aromas complement the more wet-rock-mineral-y profile of fresh goat’s milk cheeses. And, texturally, the juicy acidity of Vermont-grown grapes matches the acidity of goat’s milk, making for an effortless pairing,” she said.
For a light summer dinner, crumble some Sage Farm Goat Dairy chevre over a local chicken taco, and enjoy with La Crescent from Shelburne Vineyard, recommends Galbraith. 

3. Soft Cheese Pairings
Trivelpiece starts with a cheese selection and works from there, choosing Blue Ledge Farm’s Camembrie.

She says the buttery cheese pairs well with Shelburne Farms’ Celestial, Substrata and Protolith.

“These three wines perfectly balance the smooth, buttery notes of the cheese by refreshing your palate with each sip, so you're always ready for the next one,” Trivelpiece said.
Those looking to celebrate should uncork a sparkling Vermont wine – or petillant naturel, wine made by capturing the sparkle of a single fermentation – and pair with gooier soft cheeses, like Jasper Hill Farm’s Harbison

4. Vermont Cheese and Red Wine
Pouring a red? Galbraith recommends a harder cheese.

“Hybrid red varieties like Marquette, Frontenac, and St Croix will be great with firmer Vermont-made cheeses, especially those made with cow’s milk. We love selections from Orb Weaver Creamery, like Cave Aged. Tannin, the gum-gripping sensation mainly found in red wine, is a great match for rich cheeses; and, the earthy profile of this natural rind cheese will highlight the earthiness of the wine,” she said.

To explore more about Vermont cheese, visit Vermont Cheese Council. Learn about Vermont wines on the grapevine at Vermont Grape and Wine Council.