Paloma Hinahon lives near everyone’s favorite East Dallas Italian grocery, Jimmy’s Food Store.
“I go in there occasionally to buy a bottle of wine, and I used to kind-of Russian roulette it,” she says. “Now I know every single thing about every single wine down the whole aisle.”
That’s because Hinahon and her boss, Jennifer Uygur, recently took an intense eight-week course to receive certification as Italian wine professionals.
Uygur is largely self-taught but she’s been in the wine business for years. Hinahon is a newcomer.
“On the first day, Jennifer was like, ‘This is really hard!’ ”Hinahon says. “There was never a point in the course where I was like, ‘I got this.’ ”
Learning all of the wine-growing regions of Italy and where they are located, the names of the grapes (and how to pronounce them), and all the wines took serious study.
They made flashcards to drill each other during their downtime. They made up mnemonic devices: Umbria is in the center of Italy, like a belly button so, umbilical cord.
They’re wine nerds.
Lucia opened seven and a half years ago serving hand-made pasta and salumi in a 32-seat Bishop Arts restaurant where reservations are needed a month in advance.
Owners Jennifer and David Uygur, who live in Winnetka Heights, recently opened their second restaurant, Macellaio, around the corner on Bishop at Melba. The new place specializes in salumi and diverges from pure Italian with French and Spanish influences. It’s more casual and has 55 seats inside and 19 seats at the bar.
“With Macellaio open, it’s nice to know that Paloma can step in and do my job,” she says. “Not only is she great with guests, she now has a deep knowledge of the wines.”
Hinahon and Uygur are two of a handful of certified Italian wine specialists in Dallas; only one of the others is a woman.
Some people consider the wine business to be male dominated, Hinahon says. But that hasn’t been her experience. All of her wine mentors are women.
“This was my first foray into wine in general, and now I want to keep going and get all the certificates,” she says. “It’s something I want to pursue and be a part of.”
Ambience: Rustic Italian romance
Price range: $20-$35
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 5:30-10 p.m.
Address: 408 W. Eighth St.