From juggling on stage with the Rolling Stones to teaching martial arts, the New York Times best-selling author Michael Gelb has led an unusual life. Author of 12 books, including How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci, he’s taken his passions in life—juggling, art and now wine—and translated them into life-coaching techniques. His current book, Wine Drinking for Inspired Thinking, Uncork Your Creative Juices, instructs readers to take a more creative approach to living and wine drinking. Gelb spoke with Wine Spectator about his favorite bottles and why he thinks drinking wine is the key to creativity.
Wine Spectator: What inspired your latest book?
Michael Gelb: The through-line of my work over the past 30 years is about taking the great minds of history and making their wisdom accessible to people so that they can live more creative lives. It’s about brain power, improving your mind as you get older. … When we drink wine we feel the animated spirit of the get-togethers at the Medici Palazzo, the creativity around Thomas Jefferson’s dinner table. … Every country has a phrase for the joy of life. The Italians have la dolce vita. The French have joie de vivre. But in the U.S.A. all we have is happy hour. We shouldn’t be drinking to get drunk. Applying the intelligence of moderation, it is an exquisite elixir you can enjoy every day.
WS: Do you drink every night with dinner?
MG: Absolutely. [Last night we had] Brick House Boulder Block Pinot Noir 2008.
WS: What was your first memorable bottle?
MG: It was Bolla Valpolicella at a romantic dinner with my first true love when I was a freshman at Clark University. Not the greatest wine, but a great moment.
WS: What is your best bottle of all time?
MG: The benchmark bottle that got me started seriously with wine was a 1982 Pichon Comtesse de Lalande—it blew me away out of the gate. On my 50th birthday I went to Bordeaux and visited all the great wineries. I feel [visiting wineries] deeply enriches the experience of wine tasting. When you taste those same wines later in life they can transport you back to the source and when you first had them in situ.
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