Shedding some light on your favorite wine writers.
Sarah Tracey is a wine, food, and lifestyle expert based in Brooklyn. She holds a certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers, has taught over 400 wine classes to date, and is known for hosting engaging, educational, and fun wine events!
Sarah has worked her way up from spit-bucket emptier at a local winery to Michelin-starred Wine Director at top NYC restaurants. When she’s not vineyard-hopping, Sarah is the resident wine expert at Martha Stewart Living and was named one of the Top 20 Wine Influencers in the US for her blog, The Lush Life. She is a Symposium of Professional Wine Writers Fellow, a contributor at The Food Network, and frequently appears as an on-air personality with broadcast news outlets throughout the country.
Sarah has been featured in ‘O’ The Oprah Magazine, People, Food & Wine, Life & Style, Forbes, Fortune, Huffington Post, Elle, Refinery 29, Town & Country, Southern Living, Cosmopolitan, PureWow, Brides, Miami Times, and Cheddar TV.
1. What was your first job as a writer?
The first chapter of my career, before I got bitten by the wine bug, was in the music industry—so my very first experience of ever getting paid to write was actually as a songwriter. I had penned my own compositions ever since I could talk, but that magical first experience of getting a check for my writing was from a music production company when I first moved to New York after college. They had a vast catalog of pop hits made famous in Israel, and they hired me to write English lyrics for those tracks. They didn’t want a literal translation; instead, they wanted me to write my own fresh lyrics to the pre-existing melodies and beats. It was undoubtedly a random gig, but I was very proud to call myself a professional songwriter. (I still don’t know what the Hebrew lyrics to any of those original songs meant!)
2. What led you to becoming a wine writer?
Like many working NYC musicians, I needed more than one job to cover Manhattan rent, so I was moonlighting at a little wine bar in the evenings after my studio sessions. The owner saw that I liked to talk to people, so he invited me to lead their weekly wine tasting. That led to me wanting to learn more about the wines I was pouring, which eventually led to me starting a wine blog. My goal was to create a space on the internet for everyday wine drinkers: people who loved wine but were more interested in learning to pair cheese with a $15 screw-cap bottle of Sauvignon Blanc than which high-end Bordeaux to buy at auction. Most of the wine writing at that time was geared towards collectors and connoisseurs, but I didn’t see the type of content that felt welcoming to people like my friends and me, so I decided to create my own.
Through blogging, I became more serious about my wine studies and got a job at City Winery—a music venue and working winery—and part of my role was to host a weekly wine and cheese class. One evening I had some editors from Martha Stewart Living join. They loved my approach to wine and happened to be looking for a wine contributor and expert voice for their digital content. They asked if I had ever done any wine writing—and luckily, I had months of blog posts to show them! It was the absolute example of ‘luck’= preparation + opportunity, and all of a sudden I was a professional wine writer. My advice to any aspiring writer would be—don’t wait for an invitation to write. Start your own thing and put your talent out into the world. If it’s quality, relevant writing that provides value, it will find its audience.
3. What kind of reader do you have in mind when you’re writing?
I still write for those ‘in-between’ wine consumers: they have a basic knowledge of wine & food and some fluency and confidence around a wine list; however, they’re not super wine geeks either. I genuinely believe wine can be a fascinating, pleasurable part of a full and rich life—without having to spend hours each week studying wine textbooks. I love to give quick but impactful advice on how to get the most out of the wine experience.
4. Where is the most magical place your wine writing has brought you?
I traveled to New Zealand in 2019 to explore seven wine regions with New Zealand Wine Growers—one of my most memorable experiences was an e-bike ride followed by a wine tasting in Central Otago, where the landscape is just jaw-dropping (Lord of The Rings territory!). Part of that trip included a day being welcomed into a Maori tribe. Having the privilege of experiencing a culture so far removed from our own was so special and truly unforgettable.
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5. What was one of your favorite articles to write, and why?
Another tough question! But if I have to choose one, my 2017 article, Seduced by Somontano: My Unforgettable Wine Adventure in Spain, was one of my favorites to write. I studied in Spain for 2 non-consecutive years and had not been back for more than 20 years when I was invited on a wine trip to Somontano. When I lived in Spain, I have fond memories of sipping wine with my host family and friends, but I really didn’t know much about wine. It was so fulfilling to come back to Spain, to a region that was new to me, and view it through the lens of wine. It reaffirmed the love that I’ve always had for Spain.
6. What is the best advice someone has given you on your writing?
7. What would you be doing if you weren’t writing about wine?
I’m not sure if there was one piece of advice, but something I’ve steadily learned from editors over the years is the challenge of brevity. Saying more, with fewer words. I have no formal journalism background or real training in writing; I always came to writing more in the way I would speak—so it’s a constant challenge to keep my writing clean, informative, and to ‘cut the fat’ so to speak.
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