Off the Vine: Good tasting wine for $7 a bottle

May 16, 2012 

In the current economic times, trying to save money can be a bit difficult. As you walk down the aisle of your local wine shop, it is very common to see a large number of wines that are priced $20 and above -- a price which can be hard to swallow for an everyday wine. On the other hand there are affordable options, such as wines from FishEye Winery which makes 10 different wines priced at about $7 a bottle. The winery's motto is "Watch out! This wine jumps out of your glass!"

FishEye Winery is in Griffith, Australia. The packaging of these wines is quite unique, with very bright labels that are extremely informative about the wine that is in the bottle. The label informs you where the wine falls in the spectrum of full-bodied to light-bodies, as well as dry to sweet. In addition, each label also contains the flavors and aroma of the wine and suggested food pairings.

The FishEye Sweet Red is a non-vintage wine that is Shiraz based and sweetened with the addition of the Moscato grape, along with other varietals. The Sweet Red is best served chilled, making it nice to drink poolside on a hot summer day.

The 2010 FishEye Shiraz is full-bodied as one would expect from a wine made with this varietal. As the label suggested, this wine paired quite well with baby back ribs. The 2010 Pinot Grigio was crisp and refreshing, with the flavor of ripe pears.

FishEye is just one of more than a dozen different brands that comprise the portfolio of Underdog Wine Merchants. Underdogs' brands include wines that are produced with grapes that not just

grown in California and Washington, but from countries around the world such as Italy, Germany, Australia, Spain, South Africa and New Zealand.

Many of the wines in Underdog's portfolio are also available in 3-liter boxes in addition to 750 ml bottles. The package being used for these wines is called the Octavin Home Wine Bar, but Fisheye calls it the Fisheye Wine Cask. The box is an eight-sided wine container that consists of a plastic bag containing wine placed inside of a cardboard box. The nice thing about the 3-liter box is that while it contains the equivalent amount of wine as four regular 750ml bottles, it doesn't cost four times as much.

Compare the price between a single bottle of the Sweet that sells for $7 to the 3-liter priced at $18 -- or equivalent to $4.50 a bottle. In addition, according to the Octavin label, using their product to package the wine in lieu of glass bottles reduces packaging waste by more than 90 percent and carbon emissions by more than 50 percent. Many wineries are making considerable efforts to produce their products using environmentally safe methods. The cardboard box that Octavin uses can be easily recycled.

Jim Rawe, a family attorney in Bradenton, is an avid collector of fine wines. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at jimrawe@gmail.com.

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