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Sommelier

Eduardo Porto Carreiro is one of a new breed in an old-world profession

Photograph by Dustin Snipes

» “The word sommelier is so old guard. It’s a French term that means ‘wine steward.’ I normally refer to myself as a ‘wine guy.’”

» Porto Carreiro, 31, is the sommelier at Lukshon, the Southeast Asian restaurant in Culver City owned by chef Sang Yoon of Father’s Office.

» A certified master sommelier must complete four levels of training and take a final exam by invitation only from the London-based Court of Master Sommeliers. There are currently 118 masters worldwide (101 men, 17 women). The exam has a failure rate of 97 percent.

» “One thing about wine is that it is changing every day. Literally every year you have a new set of vintages from growers and new producers—and you always have new palates.”

» Porto Carreiro’s first job in the business was as a wine clerk at Greenblatt’s Deli in West Hollywood. Several respected sommeliers began their careers at the 86-year-old institution, including Drew Langley, the wine director at Providence. 

» “In L.A. sommeliers are more open and relaxed and are not following a specific book. Wine programs that are cutting-edge in other cities look like a normal wine program here.”

» Lukshon has a well-edited list of 50 wines. The priciest bottle on the menu is a $275 Grand Cru champagne from the small producer Jacques Selosse.

» “‘What grows together goes together’ is the saying when it comes to pairing food and wine. But there is no established culture of winemaking in Myanmar or great producers in Thailand. So you have these crazy flavors that aren’t traditionally paired with wine. You have no rules—you just go for it.”

» Porto Carreiro has tried several brands and styles of bottle openers over the years but always goes back to the Pulltap double-hinged waiter corkscrew. “It’s inexpensive and efficient.” 

» “I am salaried. I do not get tipped. If I sell a $3,000 bottle of wine, everyone down to the busers benefits. But yes, I occasionally get handshakes." 

» The average American consumes roughly 2.5 gallons of wine a year, up from half a gallon a decade ago.

» “Every trip to the bar, every visit to a restaurant, every purchase of a bottle is research.”

» “Sommeliers need to allow the menu to shine. You take your ego out of the equation.” 

ALSO: Read "The Sommelier Challenge" to see which drinks Porto Carreiro suggests for the dishes our readers find most challenging to pair.