At Abacus Jasper’s, we take wine seriously, and our staff members are trained, bonafide experts in the vintner’s art. Dennis Egert, Director of Wine and Spirits and the General Manager for Abacus Dallas, is passionate about offering each patron the best possible dining experience. We recently spoke with Dennis to get his insights on all things wine, from the hottest trends in the industry to the lesser-known vintages (and varietals) definitely worth the uncorking.
Can you tell us a little bit about your duties at Abacus Dallas?
As the General Manager, I’m responsible for every square inch of the restaurant, including front-of-house and back-of-house.
What is an average day like for you?
We’re only open for operations starting at 5:00 p.m., so I start reading e-mails from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m., take a break and then arrive at work at 2:00 p.m. From 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., I have staff meetings, plus accounting and HR paperwork to do. Then, at 5:00 p.m., it’s showtime! I finish the day anywhere between 9:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m.
What qualities do you look for when considering a new wine for the restaurant’s list?
Big question! These days, I am really focusing on smaller distributors and less mainstream wines for placements. It’s not that I don’t buy Caymus Cabernet, but, if I have a choice, I will pick the small grower over a large corporate brand or supplier.
Price is not that important to me anymore — quality is my number one priority. When you buy a high-quality wine from a small producer or distributor, you make your money back on blowing away guests who will soon return.
Can you talk about pairing wines with courses and what goes into that process?
We mainly use our by-the-glass wines for pairing wines with courses. These are “ready to drink” wines that are non-grocery selections and are always in-stock. These wines are very food-friendly, have good acidity and are lively selections that pair well with Chef Chris Patrick’s food.
What’s your ideal pairing?
Right now, I’m drinking Chilean wines with seafood.
What new and innovative pairings have you seen recently?
I like the trend out there of starting out with light reds, moving on to bold reds and then finishing with white wines.
What’s the biggest mistake diners make when choosing wine?
Ordering wines from the right side of the menu — by price.
What are your favorite hidden wine gems right now?
What is your go-to wine to mark the end of a long day?
Rosé, all day.