Musician, graphic designer and writer Madeline Puckette is an artist in every aspect, so it’s no surprise that she has mastered a new art form: living, breathing, sleeping — and sipping — wine. The creative entrepreneur behind the revered wine education blog Wine Folly as well as co-author of the New York Times bestseller “Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine,” Puckette has acquainted herself with wine country everywhere from her Fremont, Seattle workspace to the South Australian wilderness alongside partner and co-author Justin Hammack. We met with the Oregon native for some insight on her worldly travels, daily discoveries and pairing perusings.
Do you think there’s a connection between your love for music and your love for wine?
My love for music is very scientific. I like the science behind music. I got a degree in music tech, which is a funny degree to have, but it’s basically trying to understand the science of sound and composition. When I got into wine, I looked for the science of wine as a way to find good wine. How do I start with a solid foundation to create something beautiful? With me, discovering wine it was, “how do I discover what wine is made of and how it is produced in order to find a beautiful wine?” The joy of wine is like listening to great music.
When you started Wine Folly in 2011, did you imagine gaining such a huge following?
We took the business very seriously before we even started. It looks like a blog and works like a blog but it’s a business. If you want something to grow you need to treat it like a business. I have an office now! We found the markets that knew how to market online and we just copied them, except the key difference between us and them was our ultimate mission for education.
When you travel to a new wine region, where do you start?
Travel from your couch first before buying tickets anywhere. The first wine region [Justin and I] traveled to was very focused. We were certain that South Australia had some great wines, so we planned the trip there simply because we already liked the wines. When you travel for wine it doesn’t matter how the region looks, you’re there for the wine.
How did you go about learning food and wine pairings?
With the sommelier courses, it’s all self-study so in order to understand great wine pairings, the best thing you can do is learn how a chef learns to create recipes. When you pair wine with food, wine becomes an ingredient because you have a dish here and then you have wine. You’re gonna take a bite of food and a sip of wine and you have to see if that tastes good together. Are they congruent or do they take away from each other? When chefs create recipes, they create balance.
This story originally ran in the spring 2016 print edition of Sip Northwest. For the full piece and more like this, click here.