Wine Talk: Mike Krzyzewski

Mar 17, 2004
Mike Krzyzewski has led the Duke men's basketball team to three national championships since 1981.

Mike Krzyzewski, coach of the men's basketball team at Duke University, has led the Blue Devils to three national championships since 1981. Coach K is also active in the V Foundation, a charity for cancer research that was established by the late Jim Valvano, one-time North Carolina State University men's basketball coach. Krzyzewski, 56, and his wife, Mickie, have hosted the V Foundation Wine Celebration in Napa, Calif., for the past three years. Coach K is in the process of installing a cellar in his Durham, N.C., home to store the few hundred bottles-mostly Californian-that he has collected. He was interviewed by Wine Spectator assistant editor Ryan Isaac.

Wine Spectator: When did you begin drinking wine?

Mike Krzyzewski: About 10 years ago, I started understanding that wine made a meal taste better. Having a bottle of wine with some friends was a nice way of socializing. My whole family now loves wine. I have a pretty good collection of it, for me, in my own home, and when my family gets together, we will break out a bottle or two and talk about the vineyard that we got it from -- whether it be Duckhorn or Silver Oak or Mondavi or Silverado. It will bring back a time or a dinner or a stopover during our visits to these wineries, and I've really loved that aspect. We also know how much hard work goes into each of the bottles of wine we drink.

WS: Have you been able to incorporate your passion for wine into your job?

MK: For our basketball program last year, Mark Beringer from Duckhorn came out to do a wine tasting with our Legacy Fund -- the million-dollar donors for our basketball program. They had an evening where he brought out different wines that he had made. I don't get a chance to spend much time in that because we're in our season, but we're going to try to do that again this winter. We just had a big Legacy dinner at our home -- about 40 people -- and each couple received an engraved bottle of Silver Oak.

WS: What is your most memorable wine drinking experience?

MK: Our favorite restaurant in Las Vegas is called Michael's -- it's at the Barbary Coast. My oldest daughter got engaged there, and we celebrated with Silver Oak-that was my first time having Silver Oak -- and Opus and Caymus Special Select. We stayed there till four in the morning and we had everybody -- the cooks, all the support staff -- celebrating. We go there often now. When friends go to Vegas, I might treat them to a meal at Michael's, and the staff will bring out a wine -- "this is one of Coach K's favorite wines" -- and so it's like I'm with them there. It's such a people thing. I never knew that. And it's not for elite people; it's for everybody.