Splendid Somms 2

While these educated experts are serious about fine wine, the world’s best champagne, solid bar service and perfect food and wine pairings, they are also serious about belly laughs and supporting one another like old school chums. When we met this elite group of affable Atlanta sommeliers at the St. Regis’ elegant Atlas Restaurant, they only stopped cavorting when a bottle of Aubry champagne was popped to toast to our morning together and to their continued success with the Court of Master Sommeliers. The Court honors four levels of examinations, leading to the grand dame, Master Sommelier, a designation earned by only 147 Americans (two in Georgia). From left are: Andres Loaiza, Aria; Joon Lim, Vine Vault, Clarke Anderson, St. Cecilia; Caleb Hopkins, Atlas; Linda Torres, Ritz-Carlton Buckhead; Eric S. Crane, Empire Distributors, Inc.; Juan Cortes, Restaurant Eugene.

Wondering what to drink next? Here are white wines Eric loves when the weather starts to change, in the $25 to $30 price range: German Riesling, White Bordeaux, Alsace Pinot Gris. Ready for reds? Try Rioja Reserva, Chianti Classico, Oregon Pinot Noir.