Shedding some light on your favorite wine writers.
Melanie Young writes and hosts the national radio shows and podcasts The Connected Table Live and The Connected Table Sips, featuring conversations with global thought leaders in wine, food, spirits, and hospitality, and Fearless Fabulous You, a lifestyle show for women covering wellness, wine, and entrepreneurship. The Connected Table LIVE is ranked #4 in Feedspot’s Top Food & Drink podcasts for 2021 and a Finalist for Best Radio Show (International Association of Culinary Professionals Awards—2020).
A global wine and food traveler and freelance writer, Young has written about wine, spirits, and food for Wine4Food, The Epoch Times, Santé Magazine, and Wine Enthusiast. She leads talks and tastings on wine, women, entrepreneurship, and career reinvention. Young spent more than 20 years running her eponymous global wine and food marketing agency, during which time she helped launch, oversee, and produce The James Beard Foundation Awards. Melanie is a member of Les Dames d’ Escoffier, Wine Media Guild, and Women of the Vine & Spirits. An 11-year breast cancer survivor, she is the author of the award-winning book, Getting Things Off My Chest: A Survivor’s Guide To Staying Fearless & Fabulous in the Face of Breast Cancer.
1. What was your first job as a writer?
I always wanted to be a writer. Both my parents are book authors and wrote for the local newspaper. My first paid job as a teenager was working as a freelance feature writer for the Chattanooga New Free Press, my hometown newspaper. I continued to write articles for this newspaper while I was in college and still have every tear sheet. My first article recounted my first trip to Israel as a young tourist and witnessing the country’s celebration after Israeli commandos successfully launched a raid in Entebbe, Uganda to rescue more than 100 Israeli hostages. My second assignment was less exotic: the popularity of skateboarding.
2. What led you to becoming a wine writer?
First, let me share why wine is so important in my life: My father was a wine educator for 35 years in Chattanooga. He was a C.P.A. by profession, and teaching wine at the local university was his passion and a side hustle. He started teaching me about wine when I was a teenager. He loved bringing out special bottles from his wine cellar to drink with me when I came for a visit. When I write about wine or drink a special bottle, I think about him.
Becoming a professional wine writer was a natural progression after running my eponymous wine and food public relations agency for many years. I enjoy storytelling and was always writing stories about my wine clients. After I closed my agency to focus on writing in 2012, I started blogging and pitching stories to different outlets. In 2014, my husband David Ransom and I launched our radio show, The Connected Table Live, to have thoughtful conversations with wine producers around the world. The show is not just about vintners; we interview chefs, restaurateurs, authors, farmers, and distillers.
3. What kind of reader do you have in mind when you’re writing?
This depends on the outlet and audience. I have written articles for both the business and consumer side. My target readers are individuals—and many women—who are curious about wine and want to expand their palate. I enjoy writing about wine destinations and sharing a sense of discovery. My radio show for women, Fearless Fabulous You, profiles women in wine and what inspired them to work in the business. The Connected Table Live’s listeners are a blend of both industry and consumer.
4. Where is the most magical place your wine writing has brought you?
Everywhere is magical in the vineyards. The Rhône Valley, especially Ventoux and Luberon, sings to my soul for the wines, food, and blend of mountains, sun, and sea breeze. After we sold our house in the Hudson Valley last year, we stayed in the Finger Lakes for three weeks in August. It was a stunning first visit just as harvest was starting. The weather was still warm, and we’d watch the sunset over Seneca Lake each evening feeling carefree. This area has outstanding Rieslings, but we discovered beautiful Chardonnays and Cabernet Francs.
Wine, food and travel writer, co host The Connected Table Live and Host, Fearless Fabulous You!
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5. What was one of your favorite articles to write, and why?
My column “Melanie Sips the World” in Wine4Food captures my sybarite side. This one is “Wild About Maremma: Italy’s Wild West.” It’s based on a hosted trip that introduced us to Italy’s Tuscany by the sea. The Maremma is a remote region is known for its pristine coastlines and rugged cliffs and cowboys, butteri, known for their skills herding Maremma longhorn cattle and horses. I came expecting an immersion in red wines, but the big surprise were the whites, especially Vermentino and Ansonica (Inzolia in Sicily).
6. What is the best advice someone has given you on your writing?
My first editor, Helen Exum, managing editor of the Chattanooga News Free Press, told me, “Melanie, paint me a picture with your words in your introduction.” When I write, I still think of my words as a paintbrush.
7. What would you be doing if you weren’t writing about wine?
If I was staying in wine, I would be a wine educator like my Dad. I enjoy teaching people and public speaking.
If I left wine, I would run a foundation whose mission is education and empowering women to be confident leaders, entrepreneurs, and social impact heroes.
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