We turned the table for this week's tasting, seeking a sparkling wine that pairs as well as Champagne with one of our favorite cheeses, instead of the other way around. We found the match in Louis Bouillot Perle de Vigne "Grande Réserve" Brut (nonvintage; about $16 at wine shops and big box stores).
The cheese at center stage is Saint Agur, a lusty, aged French double-cream blue that wraps its pungent punch in a creamy cloak that marries perfectly with bubbles. Spread it at room temp on a water cracker, accessorize with cornichons and apple slices and pop the cork. Nirvana awaits.
The Bouillot, a delightful Crémant de Bourgogne, is made primarily from pinot noir grapes grown in Burgundy, blended with chardonnay, gamay and aligote. While some wines styled cremant have softer, less assertive bubbles than Champagne, this one is aged in the bottle for 24 months in the traditional method and is in no way underpowered. You'll notice a softer mouth feel than with other styles of sparkling wines but you'll also detect yeast on the nose and creamy pear on the palate, all set off by a long, clean, dry finish.
For those whose zeal for stinky cheeses is less pronounced than ours, try pairing this wine with French toast, maple syrup and crisp bacon at your Mother's Day brunch. The marriage won't be quite as celestial as that with the Saint Agur, but it definitely will tickle your tongue.
Colette Bancroft is the Times' book editor; John Bancroft is a freelance writer on food, wine and travel.