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Book Review: Wine Folly, The Essential Guide To Wine

If your a beginner or casual wine drinker and want to understand the varied characteristics of wines and what makes them different, Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack’s book Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine1. should be required reading. We’re followers/subscribers of Madeline Puckette’s Wine Folly blog and like her informative graphics and low key approach to learning about wine and just couldn’t resist getting a copy of her book.

The book is divided into three sections, fundamentals, styles of Wine and Wine regions. A combination of graphics and text provides an easy and fast method of learning about wine and the specific information presented is both practical and interesting. For example right in the beginning of the book you learn about bottle labels, basic characteristics of wines and how to taste wine using the four-step method of: look, smell, taste and conclude. Although food and wine pairing is covered in only eight pages it has just enough theory and specific recommendations for cheese, meat, vegetable and herb/spice pairing that the reader should be able to pair almost any menu with just the right wine.

The book begins with the basic fundamentals of wine including: tasting, serving, storing and pairing food with wine. The information for each topic is presented using a double page format that includes graphics and condensed paragraphs of text. This easy to read format displays a huge amount of information that can either be read page by page or used later as a quick reference for each topic.

The second section contains information, using the double page format, for 55 different wines. A graphic profile, possible flavors and where it grows is provided for each wine. Used as a reference guide the reader is given an overview of each wine that gives a quick understanding of where the wine originated and the differences that could be expected from region to region.

The last section provides information for the major wine growing regions in 12 countries of the world. Again using the double page format, the primary wine producing regions are described and shown on a map of each country. For the major regions, e.g., Bordeaux, a more detail map is provided and the subtle differences of the wines described.

The Washington Post described this as “The best introductory book on wine to come along in years”. The unique combination of limited text and substantive graphics allows the reader to quickly and easily find their desired level of information. It’s a book that takes the beginning wine drinker effortlessly to a higher level of understanding.


1. It should be noted that in September 2018 a new edition of this book titled the “Magnum Edition” was published in hardcover. It is similar, but includes additional wine information found in the 2015 edition we reviewed. Both are available from Amazon.