Dave Mirra, 33, is the face of BMX biking—that is, he can jump, flip and fly on his bike better than just about anyone in the world. He has won more gold medals at the X Games than any other athlete, and was the first rider to complete a double back flip in competition. Mirra's stunts have even been immortalized in a series of video games. Last year, he established Mirraco, his own brand of bikes. And in a world where his peers guzzle energy drinks and beer, Mirra has become an enthusiastic student of wine. He currently lives in Greenville, N.C., known in BMX circles as "Protown" for the large number of professional bikers that live there.
Wine Spectator: How did you become interested in wine?
Dave Mirra: I got interested in wine because it was a toned-down way to have a couple of drinks. [But] in restaurants, wine's a huge part of the experience for me—looking for my favorite wines and getting turned on to some other wines that I don't know. … What's great about wine, too, is it's always a learning experience. You can always learn more about it, even just being out, making different friends … When I go back to [my hometown] Syracuse, I always go to Pascale, and [owner] Chuck Pascale has introduced me to a lot of good stuff—Quintarelli Valpolicella, some '04 Priorats, a bottle of Serpico … And the Blue Tusk [in Syracuse], I'm always trying new stuff there … I just did the Long Beach Pro/Celebrity Grand Prix and I met [NASCAR truck racer] Mike Skinner, and he's really into wine. I told him that I'm into Silver Oak and he told me about Twomey, which is a Merlot from the owner of Silver Oak, so when I got home I got a bottle. It's kind of cool to learn from other people, and show them what you know.
WS: And you had a wine-country wedding last year?
DM: My wife and I got married up in Napa, because we're into wine together. … It was at a small restaurant just around the corner from Silverado.
WS: You had a pretty serious accident in 1993, in which your skull was fractured and your senses of smell and taste were altered. What was that like for you?
DM: Basically there were a lot of things that I used to love before the accident that I couldn't even stand to think about touching, for a long time. That was for about six months. It's back to normal now … but maybe it has something to do with liking wine now. I can't stand beer and I can barely stand liquor. [Laughing]
WS: If you're training for an event like the X Games, or a tour, will you forgo your nightly glass or two of red wine?
DM: Honestly, as time goes on—I've been competing for years, and I take everything seriously when I get to an event, but I'll still drink a glass or two at night. Sometimes the night before an event, I won't. If I'm on the road, it really depends on the restaurant, the wine list, what they have. That makes a big difference. I was just in a Marriot in Torrance, Calif., of all places. I didn't expect it, but … they had a really, really good, long wine list [at the bar]. They had Twomey, and it had Silver Oak by the glass. I couldn't believe it. There were probably 50 great bottles you could get by the glass.
WS: Do you collect wine?
DM: I'm building a new house, and there's a 1,500-bottle wine cellar in the plans. I have this little fridge now, but you can only fit so many bottles in it, and it's right there in the kitchen, so if I feel like drinking something good, it's hard to leave it alone …I've had some cases of good years of Silver Oak, and a case of Darioush Cabernet and I'll say to myself, "I'll drink half and I'll save half," but it doesn't usually work out that way.
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