Growing up, I never quite understood why my mother kept a chilled bottle of champagne in every fridge in the house. What did my parents need all that wine for? Were they alcoholics, the terrifying and dangerous people I had learned about in my elementary school D.A.R.E. course?
No—well, probably not. But my parents did (and do) love to entertain, and as I get older, I’ve realized that the only thing I like more than drinking wine is having people come over to my house and drink it with me. That said, it’s difficult to supply a house full of friends and friends of friends with a substantial amount of wine without not just breaking the bank, but completely obliterating it, and it’s even more difficult (read: impossible) to enforce a rule that everyone bring their own personal bottle lest they go unserved. “Every lush for themselves” is, understandably, a mandate that does not go over well.
Cheap wine—unlike cheap makeup—is almost universally undesirable (to me, at least); a $6 wine does not have nearly the same appeal as a $6 lipstick. But any girl worth her bubbles will have at least tried her fair share of “budget” wines, particularly when the girl herself is on a budget (sometimes, when it suits her). After all, what could be more of a modern marvel than a low-priced wine that tastes good enough to fool all your party guests into thinking you’ve either gotten a huge raise or just lost your mind?
I tried Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava on a whim, as one often tries whichever bottle of sparkling wine in the fridge at the liquor store feels the coldest. I drank it by myself, and then I drank it with friends, and then I drank a little more by myself and a lot more with friends, and the unanimous verdict is that this wildly low-priced brut is wonderful. It doesn’t taste cheap, by which I mean it lacks the sickly sweetness or weird aftertaste of sparkling wines in a similar price range; it’s fresh, clean, and light, and one beverage-selling source claims it pairs well with fried chicken, which despite having yet to try it I will accept as fact, no questions asked.
If you’re a discerning wine person who goes into this expecting a Dom dupe for under $10, you might be disappointed, but if you’re just trying to find something cheap and delicious that can flow plentifully until your friends are drunk enough to wiggle out the kitchen window in your apartment because summer’s almost over and that’s the only way you can access the backyard, Cristalino is where it’s at.