Finding “Core Values” in Wine & Cheese Pairing: Add Apples for new Appeal!

We all know that wine and cheese pair well together, but this Fall’s fresh apple crop presents the opportunity to change up your appetizer game by bringing apples to the wine and cheese pairing party!

This week, our Produce and Cheese experts have paired four apple varieties with four cheeses that will deliver delicious flavor combinations. To those pairings, our Wine experts have suggested a wine that should elevate the match to another level.

We have some general pairing tips to share, but the first rule to know is that the taster is always right! There are no wrong answers because if you love it, it’s a win! Start with the suggested matches, and then mix and match them in your own way. You can also add a drop of honey, toasted nuts, dried fruits, and other accoutrements to your ‘bite’ and see how the balance and dominant flavors shift.

(NOTE: All pricing noted in this article runs from September 8-14, 2021 at all Oliver’s Market locations.)

Pairing 1:

  • Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, ($18.99/lb. this week)
  • Local Organic Gala Apples, Grown by Devoto Gardens in Sebastopol via F.E.E.D. Sonoma, $1.99/lb.
  • La Crema Chardonnay – 2019, Sonoma Coast, $15.99

Cheese Notes: Handcrafted by Vermont’s Cabot Creamery and loving aged by neighbors the Cellars at Jasper Hill, Clothbound is an approachable but complex natural-rind, bandaged cheddar. The texture is crumbly but creamy on the palate. The flavor is deeply savory and slightly tangy with caramel sweetness to the finish.

Pairing 2:

  • Rodolphe le Meunier Le Ganix Bleu, $19.99/lb.
  • Organic Granny Smith Apples, Grown in California, $1.99/lb.
  • Willowbrook Pinot Noir – 2017, “Kaufman Sunnyslope Vineyard”, Sonoma County, $11.99

Cheese Notes: Aged by master Affineur Rodolphe le Meunier, Le Ganix Bleu is crafted in the Basque country of France nestled in the Pyrenees Mountains. Made from the abundant sheep milk of the region, the flavors are all toasted nuts and brown butter with a balanced earthy blue flavor throughout.

Pairing 3:

  • Oakdale Aged Gouda, $16.99/lb.
  • Organic Cripps Pink Apples, Grown in New Zealand, $1.99/lb.
  • St Francis Zinfandel – 2018, Sonoma County, $15.99

Cheese Notes: Adhering to their grandmother’s cherished recipe brought with them from Amsterdam, these fourth-generation Dutch cheesemakers hand make their gouda in Oakdale, CA. Made with milk from local family farms, the wheels are cured in a thirty-year-old brine before aging for 8 months in custom cellars. The award-winning flavor boasts notes of caramelized nuts, and the texture is smooth with a few crunchy crystals scattered throughout.

Pairing 4:

  • Secret de Compostelle, $17.99/lb.
  • Organic Honeycrisp Apples, Grown by Chelan in Washington, $1.99/lb.
  • Hahn GSM Red Blend – 2018, California, $12.99

Cheese Notes: This Basque sheep’s milk tomme hails from high in the Pyrenees Mountains. The texture is luxuriously smooth with a rich mouthfeel. The balanced flavor boasts notes of toasted almonds, brown butter and an earthy note of mushroom.

Wine and Food Pairing 101:

As noted above, the only ‘rule’ of wine and food pairing is that there are no rules! Your taste buds are truly your best guide and even the most unlikely pairing will delight some cheese lovers.


One of the first questions to ask when pairing any food with wine is “do the strengths and flavors match?” It is about finding a unifying flavor note, like sweetness or smokiness. When pairing flavor notes, be aware of pairing strong flavors with delicate ones, as you don’t want to overwhelm any single component. When you match the strengths, you get to experience a blend of flavors rather than an avalanche of just one.



Pair items from the same geographic region since they share the same terroir. If they originated from geographically close regions, chances are good they will pair well together. (Local wine, cheese and apples, anyone?)



Opposites attract, and sometimes the best pairings are the ones that draw distinctly different flavors and textures. Varying flavor and texture provide for a more interesting pairing because one is engaging multiple senses!



Start with no more than 3-5 cheeses and 1-2 wines. This way you can keep your pairings focused and keep your palate from getting overwhelmed. When preparing cheese for tasting, you want to be sure to prepare an appropriate amount, about 2-3 ounces per person. You can always bring out more cheese, but many fresh cheeses must be discarded after being left out for more than 2 hours.



While cheese pairing is a wonderful opportunity to try some more adventurous varieties, don’t stray too far from your flavor comfort zone. Start with something familiar, like an artisan cheddar, and then perhaps introduce a more novel cheese, like a sharp-edged blue. Classic flavors will give your tasting a base for comparing and contrasting more complex match-ups.


Most importantly, have fun and celebrate the amazing array of wine, cheese and apples available this year at Oliver’s!

No comments yet. Add the first comment

Add Comment

4 Locations to Serve Sonoma County