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The Red Hen co-owner and Beverage Director Sebastian Zutant hopes to one day start his own wine label. In the meantime, he’s partnered with Virginia Wineworks in Charlottesville to create a rosé for the Bloomingdale restaurant called Dahlia. It will make its debut on Monday.
Zutant wanted to produce a rosé for his first project because “it’s one of the more fun things in the wine world. It kind of takes all the pretension out of it.” He tried to make the wine as natural as possible. “What I did was very hands-off, very low sulfur, no fining, no filtration,” he says. The result is slightly cloudy rosé with a yellowish tinge to it. Zutant describes the wine as a crisp and clean with “loads of minerality,” a bit of saltiness, and hints of watermelon and tart green apple. Zutant isn’t a complete stranger to winemaking. In between stints at Rasika and Proof, he spent a season working in Sonoma.
While rosés have a feeling of being bright and cheery, Zutant wanted to counterbalance that by having a darker name and image, hence the black dahlia on the bottle. “I’m a bit cynical,” he says. “I think in every bright spot in my life, there’s a dark side to it, too.” One of The Red Hen’s servers designed the label.
The Red Hen has about 50 cases of the wine, which Zutant expects to last throughout the summer. It will be available at the restaurant for $10 a glass or $40 for a bottle. For the release on Monday, it’s $6 a glass during happy hour.
And Zutant is just getting started. Next year, he hopes to produce 400 cases of wine, including a riesling and a cabernet franc, through partnerships with vineyards around Virginia.
The Red Hen, 1822 1st St. NW; (202) 525-3021l theredhendc.co;
Photo by Sebastian Zutant