See, sniff, 
swirl and sip.

That’s what you think sommeliers might say. They do, but that’s not all. When I met the impressive group of experts for this month’s cover shoot, it was non-stop laughs.  These aficionados are affable, approachable and absolutely affectionate. Eric S. Crane helped me corral the group. He is the Director of Training and Business Development for Empire Distributors, Inc. and has achieved the title of Certified Wine Educator from the Society of Wine Educators and the title of Advanced Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Eric also serves on the Board of Directors for the Guild of Sommelier’s Education Foundation. As Empire’s Director of Training, he regularly teaches classes on wine and spirits to his company as well as to the public. Actually, he’ll talk about this stuff to pretty much anyone who will listen. And, I’d listen to that guy all day. We shot at the gorgeous Atlas Restaurant at the St. Regis, where Caleb Hopkins holds court.  He is studying for his advanced sommelier exam, the third of four rather treacherous and arduous levels toward the Master Sommelier Diploma, an honor only two in Georgia have reached, 147 in the Americas chapter since the organization’s inception. We’re lucky to have so much knowledge here in Buckhead and Brookhaven. Search out one of these experts on your next night out and tell them we sent you in for a knock-knock joke. And a glass of something special.

There will be plenty to sip and savor at Polo in the Pines, October 8 and 9, benefitting CURE Childhood Cancer’s work, honoring Lacey JoLynn Johnson and Matthew Willis. We’re thrilled to be a partner in Saturday’s matches and a silent auction punctuated with craft cocktails and cuisine from our favorite restaurants. For Sunday’s new Atlanta Polo Brunch Festival, the ponies will be back, with bloody marys, the best brunch bites and more fun at the Atlanta Regional Polo grounds.  Executive Chef Ian Winslade of Morningside Kitchen and Murphy’s promises to wow us and our generous friends at Tito’s and Four Roses Bourbon have saddled up, too.  Tickets, times and directions at PoloInThePines.com.  See you for some divot stomping!

SCollins@LifestylePubs.com