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I Tasted Wine with Madeline Puckette!

Updated: Sep 30, 2021

Hello, Corkers!

Happy Saturday! Hope you are all enjoying the weekend. It's a bit chilly and rainy here in Minnesota...which presents a perfect opportunity to hunker down and do some good old fashioned blogging.

If you're new around here, the whole reason I started the Candid Cork was to fuel my passion for wine and to dive into a community of people who share in my love of wine culture. I found Wine Folly early on in my journey (it seems to be one of the biggest Wine Blogs out there.) I immediately felt connected to their goal: "to get more people to view wine not just as an adult beverage, but as a way to explore the world and ourselves." After a little perusing of their website, I pulled the trigger and purchased both Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine (2015) and the 2018 version: Wine Folly: Magnum Edition: The Master Guide. I certainly find Madeline Puckette (Co-Creater and Certified Sommelier) to be a credible source of all things wine; both books are wonderful and I've included links to them here if you want to check them out (just click the images below):

The Wine Folly books helped me become more confident in my tasting skills, so much so that I was ready for the chance to taste the SAME wines as someone with a "certified palette" so I could compare the flavor profiles I was picking up against theirs. That's when I decided to take the plunge on the Wine Styles Tasting Course; it gives you the opportunity to taste six different wines from around the world at the SAME TIME Madeline tastes them!

The course objectives are the following: (as stated by the Wine Folly Website):

-improve wine tasting skills

-learn techniques and language to communicate confidently about wine

-try styles of wine that expand your tasting repertoire

-explore regional wines that offer great quality and value

-deepen the passion to fearlessly explore new wines from new regions

I bet the first question you have is "What's the damage?" I purchased both the Tasting Course AND the 6 wine bottles from as a package deal for $189.99. With tax and shipping, the total came to $211. That price included the following:

-Wine Styles Tasting Course Guide and access to 2 hours of tasting videos ($19)

-Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand ($19.99)

-Matzanas Creek Chardonnay from Bennett Valley, CA ($24.48)

-Deomaine de Fontsaint GSM blend from France ($25.99)

-Castillo di Monsanto Chianti Classico Reserva from Italy ($26.99)

-Bodegas Muga Tempranillo Reserva from Rioja, Spain ($30.99)

-The Dissident "Bordeaux" Blend, Mark Ryan Winery, from Washington ($37.75)

Adding this all up, your all-in "retail value" is $185.19 - for an all-in cost of $189.99. Not too bad when you consider the convenience of having the wines pre-selected and shipped right to you, plus 2 hours of entertainment and education from one of the best in the biz!

(Note: for $99.99, you can purchase a condensed 3-bottle tasting which includes the GSM, Tempranillo, and Chianti. These prices are for shipping in the US, but there were options for Canada as well as for non-US residents.)

Just to note, you CAN buy the course through the Wine Folly website as well, but since the package comes with the course guide anyways, it makes more sense to just purchase it that way. That being said, there are some more robust "Ultimate" course options exclusively available for purchase on the Wine Folly website. These options include the course and video series with the addition of 2 Gabriel Glas tasting glasses, 1 tasting journal, and 1 wine flavors circle chart for each taster, plus a 20 pack of tasting placemats, a Coutale Waiter's Friend Corkscrew, and a WAF Champagne stopper. These packages are obviously a little more pricey - $179 for two tasters, $422.10 for six tasters, and $701.10 for 12 tasters, respectively (not including the wines).

I ordered everything on August 21st and received confirmation that my order had shipped from Westbury, NY on the 28th. It was delivered to my local Walgreen's (per my shipping preferences) in Minnesota on September 1st. I loved that there was an option to pick up at a local FedEx or Walgreens so I didn't need to worry about being home to provide identification when the package arrived (you do need to present ID to prove you're of legal drinking age to accept the package.) The pick-up process was quick and seamless; I was in and out in a matter of minutes!

My husband and I invited two friends over and the four of us completed the course together on Wine Wednesday (of course!), September 9th. Since we are all at different levels in our wine-tasting journeys, we began with the five short "Tips and Tricks" videos included with the course:

-How to Open Wine

-How to Decant Wine

-How to Observe Wine Color

-Tips of Finding Aromas in Wine

-What to Look for when Tasting Wine

After that, it was finally time to start tasting!

There are six different tasting videos included with the course: one for each of the six wines. The videos range from about 9 minutes to 15 and feature Madeline Puckette herself. She guides you through the 4 step tasting process starting with an observation of the wine, then gives you a chance to pause the video so you can identify aromas on your own before she shares the notes she's detecting. She then walks through an analysis of the structure/body/acidity/tannins/finish of the wine, and lastly provides her thoughts and overall observations. Each video is jam-packed with entertainment, interesting facts, and helpful tips and tricks. I was pleasantly surprised by how much time Madeline spends on each of the six wines; you really get the opportunity to take a deep dive into each one.

I decided not to include my personal assessment of the six wines for the intents and purposes of this blog. The reason is, the best part about the course (for me, at least) was working through each wine independently and trying to identify aromas using what I've learned. If I listed out the flavor profiles here, it would take away from you if you decide to take the course.

What I WILL say about the wines is they are all high-quality options that are approachable to the masses, regardless of their experience level. They are also a good representation of some of the common regional styles from around the world - i.e. Tempranillo from Spain, Sangiovese from Italy, and GSM from France.

Since each sample is 3 ounces, each taster will consume nearly an entire bottle of wine throughout the course so...if you're planning to drive after, you may want to use a spitoon! It took about 2.5 hours to complete the six bottle comparative, but it went by so fast! Everyone had a great time and took home some "nuggets" to add to their arsenals of wine knowledge.

Overall Review:

Were the objectives of the course met? - Yes

Did we all enjoy our time with Madeline? - Absolutely

Did everyone learn something new? -100%, yes

All said and done, I do recommend this course to anyone who is looking to sharpen their palates and deepen their understanding of regional wines. Considering what you get for your investment, it's worth every penny! I would do something like this again; in fact I hope Madeline comes out with some new courses soon so I can expand my repertoire further!

I hope this review was helpful to you. If you have any questions, just drop me a comment below! You can also find me on Instagram @thecandidcork.

Cheers, Corkers! Looking forward to our next adventure in wine...

-Jane Marie

When you shop through my Amazon links, I earn a small commission at no cost to you so I can continue to bring you the content you love! All opinions expressed here are my own.

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