Daniel Rogov, the leading Israeli food and wine writer, died unexpectedly last week.
We don’t know how old he was, nor do we know his real name (reputed to be David Jaroff). His origins are also unclear. Supposedly he grew up in Brooklyn and made a pilgrimage to Paris after graduating from high school, where he fell in love with French wine and cuisine. Sometime during the winter of 1976, he emigrated to Israel.
Here’s what we do know: Rogov reviewed wine and restaurants, first for The Jerusalem Post and later for Ha’aretz. His style was distinctive, witty and interesting, scholarly yet direct. He took no prisoners and tolerated no fools. His Guide to Israeli Wines was published annually from 2005 onward, and he did more than anyone else to promote the cause of Kosher wine in general and Israeli wine in particular. He was a curmudgeon, and yet is described as a gentleman by everyone who knew him. He was the master of the informative digression and the tall tale.
After his famous wine guides and his newspaper work, Rogov was best known for his wine forum on Robin Garr’s Wine Lovers’ Page. Astonishingly, he wrote his own obituary which appeared on the site on September 7 (www.wineloverspage.com). It was his wish that Rogov’s Forum would continue after his death, on the theory that there would be “plenty to talk about even if Rogov is no longer around.” Hopefully, this will be the case.
Sadly, I never met Daniel Rogov, although we had some email correspondence years ago. A mutual friend assures me that the two of us would have gotten along splendidly, and this is my sense of it as well. One of the passions we shared was a fondness for the wine bars of Paris, and perhaps in the life to come we will converse over a glass of Sancerre, a slab of country bread and a schmear of goat cheese.