Side Dishes: Lauded restaurant delivers its own wine
This weekend, Waterbury’s Hen of the Wood restaurant will debut a pair of new wines, available by the glass or bottle. What’s so special about that? Both feature the spot’s new private label.
According to manager William McNeil, a CIA-trained chef currently working on sommelier certification, he and chef-owner Eric Warnstedt have long dreamed of having a Hen of the Wood wine imprint. It became a reality when Thomas Houseman of Anne Amie Vineyards in Oregon agreed to work with them. Warnstedt’s friend Lance Violette, who designed Olympian Shaun White’s snowboards, contributed the label graphics.
McNeil selected his two favorite Anne Amie bottles to bear the Hen of the Wood name: a Müller-Thurgau and a pinot noir. He says the white goes best with seafood and has a touch of sweetness along with a citrusy acidity. “Overall,” he says, “it’s light with a slight minerality.”
The red, despite notes of “cedar smoke,” isn’t too rich, McNeil suggests. But there’s “also that dark, ripe cherry thing going on.” He recommends pairing it with the restaurant’s “tartine” of its namesake mushrooms on toast.
On April 20, Warnstedt and Houseman will host a release party and four-course dinner. At press time, the meal was nearly sold out.