Q&A: Madeline Puckette

Wine Folly's charismatic educator

Photo provided

Madeline Puckette is the creator of Wine Folly. Wine Folly is an award-winning brand dedicated to wine education for all. Puckette’s work with Wine Folly includes two books, a New York Times bestseller and a James Beard Award winner, as well as a portfolio of online courses, maps, prints, and wine education tools. She was awarded Wine Communicator of the Year by International Wine and Spirit Competition, or IWSC, in 2019. As a personality, Madeline Puckette is the host of the Wine Folly YouTube channel and was featured in Jason Wise's documentaries Somm: Into The Bottle and Somm 3.

The world of wine can be very intimidating, especially for beginners. What advice do you have for wine novices? And for those who may something, yet want to learn more?

MP: My best advice for beginners or people looking to learn more is to start with a backed-out perspective. So much of what we are told is important are fine details, but really when you back out and look at the big picture, it creates contextual understanding of a wine or a place, and tells you a very different story.

For example, always find out the most planted grapes of a region to provide context of a wine you’re having from there.

Both your website,, and New York Times best-selling book, Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine, teach readers about wine using creative visuals, including infographics. How do you develop your content?

MP: I am a visual designer first so it was the logical progression to create visuals for every concept in learning wine. The visuals eventually led to design systems. And as a business, the design systems led to project management involving multiple people.

All of that said, it starts with really understanding the question before providing the answer. So, at the source of every design system is a clear question.

What is the latest wine that changed your perception of the variety or region?

MP: I bought a very expensive Pinot noir from Burgundy that was average at best. It reminded me to trust my early instincts that one can drink the best wines in the world without all the hype.

What is the most interesting pairing you’ve encountered? One that broke all the rules?

MP: I’m not sure if this makes me a simpleton or a snob but I really like Blanc de Noirs with barbecue.

Your thoughts on Oregon wine? Favorites (varietal, brand and/or region)?

MP: I am increasingly a huge fan of Oregon wine as the plantings become more mature and the producers become more savvy. Growing up in Oregon in the 80s I’ve seen how drastically it’s changed. The producers here are as sophisticated as anywhere in the world and the wines are delicious.

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir of course, but I love seeing the diversity grow. Chenin? Riesling? Just make sure to get it to markets outside of Oregon to grow the brand internationally.

But this is coming from a proud Oregon-born native. So I’m completely biased.

Any exciting new projects on the horizon?

MP: As a matter of fact, yes! Wine Folly just launched a new certificate course called Wine 201. I built it with Master of Wine, Christine Marsiglio and the team.
It’s different than other courses in that it’s not all about memorization. By giving you the tools of how experts think, you will be able to find great wines on your own.

We also cover all the bases with major regions and grapes too. I’m happy that it’s turned out to be one of the more fun online courses I’ve experienced.

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