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Good Golly, Miss Folly

Graphically gifted blogger spices up wine education

How was Wine Folly born? How much wine was involved in the decision?

MP: I can tell you that there was not enough wine, otherwise we wouldn’t have done a thing! Honestly, Wine Folly was a passionate side project of mine that my partner challenged me into making a real business. With his leadership, we started it as a blog with the initial plan of making a wine club. However, as our traffic grew, we saw a clear need for wine information online. This was when I started to make infographics, which led to posters, wine maps and, eventually, a book!

All of your infographics, descriptions and notes make wine less intimidating. Do you see Wine Folly as the bridge between wine geeks and novices?

MP: I want Wine Folly to be a place for people (anyone) to learn more about wine. If it’s a bridge, that’s great.

What was the wine/experience that sparked your love of wine?

MP: A bottle of 2005 Côtes du Rhône that tasted like olives was my “a-ha” wine. At the time, I wasn’t particularly good at picking out flavors in wine, so this one was a revelation. It was my determination to repeat that experience — and failing to do so — that brought me into the complex world of wine. It sounds negative, but I like to think that I’d finally found a topic that completely perplexed me. 

With the Willamette Valley finding the spotlight, what do you think makes the area and community unique?

MP: I grew up in Corvallis! I remember bumper stickers that said “Stop Californicating Corvallis” back in the 1990s. Oregon is unlike many states in its obsession with French ideologies and “doing things the right way.” At the same time, the state has/had a great deal of old-timers who grew up during the Depression and learned to live off the land (forestry, agriculture, etc.). I grew up exposed to this aesthetic, and I can see how it influences the best wineries and other agri-businesses in the state. It’s not easy to have a winery in Oregon; there is a great deal more regulation than in other states. So, if you’re doing it, you’re there for the passion. 

If you were going to introduce a novice into the world of wine, with which three varietals would you start them?

MP: Sure. Actually, this is something I do all the time.  Most beginner wine drinkers can’t get over the tannin and sourness in wine. So, wines with sweetness, such as Moscato or Riesling are a great starting point, especially since they have no tannin. For red wines, I definitely lean towards warm-climate growing regions (California, Australia, Spain, etc.) that can really sweeten the red grapes and offer more of a lush style. For this, wine varieties like Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Syrah/Shiraz are great choices for beginners. 

Which three wines should more seasoned wine drinkers pay more attention to or give a try?

MP: This is a tricky question because I would want to ask “how seasoned?” After your first forays into the world of wine, we usually grasp toward wines with lots of fruit and lots of texture. For most of us, this is the echelon of great wine, and also where highly scored wines are typically found. This is what I like to refer to as the “common palate,” and these are wines that I learned how to identify early on. Common palate wines are generous wines and include wines like Washington Cabernet Sauvignon, fine Italian Sangiovese and even red Bordeaux.  

However, at some point during your wine adventure, you will discover another “a-ha wine” that will forever change the course of your preferences. It might be an orange wine from the Collio area of Friuli, or a Cabernet Franc from Chinon, or a dry Sherry, or maybe a minerally Champagne.

So, my only recommendation to a seasoned wine drinker is to constantly try new things and never stop exploring.

Being based in the Pacific Northwest, what hidden wine region in the area deserves a little more attention?

MP: Columbia Gorge. Both sides of the river. I’m also really curious to see how Southern Oregon grows. 

Madeline Puckette

Madeline Puckette, the founder of one of the wine world’s most unique, informative blogs, Wine Folly, was an electronica producer and graphic designer in L.A. before diving into wine.

In December 2011, Puckette started Wine Folly as a vehicle to share wine knowledge as well as encourage and inspire new drinkers using inventive and easily relatable ways to tell the story of wine through unique content, informative infographics and an attitude that blends humor with expertise.

Besides having traveled to many of the world’s wine regions, Puckette’s other wine credentials include Certified Sommelier (Level 2) with the Court of Masters and an active member of the Guild of Sommeliers. She was named “Wine Blogger of the Year” (2013–14), has been included in several national publications and is the author of “Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine,” now on The New York Times Best Seller list.

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