In the hallowed tradition of “animal-eye wines”—a light-rosé style, heavily popularized for decades by Sebastiani’s Eye of the Swan—the frog-branded Toad Hollow winery in Sonoma releases a truly lovely rosé called “Eye of the Toad.” Don’t even think about the marketing, which you may or may not find clever. Think of the wine!!! This fresh-as-a-daisy pink wine weighs in at 11.5% alcohol—about as low a count as you’ll find in any dry California wine! For me, it is a near-perfect rosé for this summer. I love the touches of ruby in the color, and the Pinot-suggestive nose of strawberries and spice. Dry entry, dry middle, dry finish—no sweetness here to perform a balancing act. It’s a good thing that the wine’s low in alcohol, otherwise a touch of sugar might have been appropriate. But this Eye of the Toad derives its charm from its frank dryness, and its purity. I marked it down ever-so-slightly for its slight jolt of saltiness in the finish, which could have been averted by a little more acid. Quibbles.
This is fresh, lovely rosé that will go with a ton of foods! Fish and shellfish in simple preparations. Chicken and pork off the grill would be ideal this summer (as long as you hold the sweet BBQ sauce—otherwise, feel free to rib-it!). Insalata Caprese. Charcuterie, as a refreshing cut-through. Creamy rice dishes (I LOVED it with a vegetable risotto!). Goat cheese (though it’s not rich enough for fatty cheeses). Let your imagination leap!