Come 2018, Mark Hefter hopes to receive a very important invitation. “I’m hoping that I’ll be invited to take the master sommelier exam,” says the West Orange, N.J., native. “Master sommeliers have been so big in helping my career; I’m looking forward to passing on my knowledge when I become a master somme, and help others in their career.” For now, Hefter continues his studies, which includes testing himself with more than 4,000 flash cards; he also sharpens his skills as the wine director for MB Steak at Hard Rock Hotel.

“At MB Steak we have full-body steakhouse wines—what I like to call knife-and-fork wines,” says Hefter, who helped put the wine list together. “Our philosophy here is, we really won’t repeat a producer on our list—this gives us a chance to be more diverse. … The fun part is showing somebody (wine) that is out of their wheelhouse that they end up loving.”

And wine is definitely something that Hefter loves, especially for the past 17 years. Hefter has worked around wine since his days at Le Cirque 2000 in New York City. He’s been a sommelier and wine director for many Las Vegas fine-dining spots including Circo, Spago and Crush. He’s also traveled the world—visiting vineyards in France, Germany, California, Oregon and all throughout Italy. Whatever wine is in front of Hefter, he likes. “I’m always learning something. It’s always an eye-opening experience to taste something new.”

Egly-Ouriet Brut Rosé Grand Cru

Hefter likes to say that champagne is just wine that happens to have bubbles. And for a steakhouse, it doesn’t always have to be red and white wines that pair nicely with meat. So Hefter handpicked this Egly-Ouriet Brut Rosé Grand Cru to showcase. “It’s super good, like strawberry lemonade. I would even dare to pair it with a nice filet,” he says. “I call it a steakhouse champagne.”