A Kosher Wine Chat with Daniel Rogov - Part 1

Wine Connoisseur, Critic, Author


KosherEye had the pleasure of speaking with Israel's noted wine expert, Daniel Rogov. Even though 6,425 miles and a seven hour time difference separated us, we felt as though we were sitting with, and speaking to, a long–time friend. All that was missing was a glass of wine.

drogovbook2010Rogov is the food and wine critic for the Israel newspaper Haaretz and the author of numerous books on Israeli restaurants and wine, including the acclaimed Rogov's Guide to Kosher Wines 2010. He resides in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Our chat with Daniel Rogov was fascinating, informative and extensive. He shared so much with us so that we could share it with our KosherEye readers; we are presenting it in a two-part series.

When did your interest in wine begin?
"My interest in wine began as a child. My parents loved wine and had the wisdom to let children taste wine (not drink wine) at a very early age. Doing that has several advantages: it shows children that wine is a cultured part of daily life. That wine, consumed in moderation, with food and good company is the way to consume it.

What that does has several effects. It gives children the love of the culture of wine when they are young...by the time they reach adolescence, children that have tasted wine growing up tend to drink moderately (which I advocate for everyone) - it eliminates the forbidden fruit notion."

Isn't that (drinking wine at a young age) very European?
"Yes, you will find it in Europe and with parents and grandparents that came from
'the old country' because they brought those European habits with them. Part of those habits were wine with the meals...I wish we would find more Americans doing it."

How do you evaluate wine (for a review)?  
"Let's be very clear, there is a big difference between drinking wine and tasting wine. You drink wine for the pleasure of the wine as it accompanies food. When you taste wine as a professional, first of all, you don't drink it, you spit (it out). I wouldn't have lived past 35 (if I drank it) - my heart, lungs and liver would have given out long ago! When you taste wine, you don't eat food at the same time. Even though you want to know how it will go with food, you do not have it at the same time...your basis for comparison is dulled.

Food makes all wine taste better. Cheese makes all wine taste better. An old saying from Tunisia goes 'When you want to sell wine, give them cheese to eat. When you want to buy wine, eat an apple first.' "

What about the pairing of chocolate and wine?
Rogov does not advocate the pairing of chocolate and wine. "Chocolate fills the palate and after it, you can't taste anything. It might be a nice combination sometimes with certain red wines but never, never, never with dessert wines or sweet wines because chocolate kills the palate completely. Chocolate makes you feel good...it's a good way to sell wine." By the way, Rogov loves chocolate and is a chocolate just like us!

Numerical ratings - what do they actually mean?
The numerical rating “is a 2 digit number (very rarely 3) at the end of a wine tasting note. The numbers give you a shorthand summation of the quality that the critic thinks the wine is worth. However, it does not predict if the wine drinker will enjoy the wine, so I recommend reading the tasting notes. People who buy wines based only on the numerical scores are very foolish...if you don't like an Amarone (a bitter, heavy wine), and I gave it a score of 95, you will NOT enjoy this wine.

Scores are subjective...when a critic gives a score, it is his/her opinion of the wine...you don't have to agree with a critic, it is important that you find a critic that gives direction to your personal taste. People often ask me, what is the best wine? The answer…”it is the one you like the best! Critics can give direction but can never dictate your taste."

What do wineries do with a bad wine batch?
A critic owes only one thing to his/her audience and that is an honest answer and you are going to get an honest answer. If it is an honest winery and it (the wine) is not up to their expectations, what they SHOULD do is downgrade it to a very cheap wine, sell it to another winery or dump it. If the winery is not honest, they will play all sorts of tricks to make the wine taste better. It depends on the integrity of the winery."

How do you make vinegar from wine? (KosherEye loves this tip!)
"Always use a good wine. To make at home: Take any leftover wine; add 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar to every quart of wine. Place in sun, lightly covered with plastic wrap, and let rest for 2-3 days. In my opinion, most wine vinegars that you buy in stores are second rate."

When making wine vinegar or cooking with wine, never use a wine that you don't want to drink. The faults in the wine will become more exaggerated as the wine cooks and becomes concentrated and can spoil your dish."

Follow Daniel Rogov on the Wine Lovers Discussion Page. His books, Rogov's Guide to Kosher Wines 2010 and Rogov's Guides to Israeli & Kosher Wines 2011 are available on Amazon.com.

February 14, 2011


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