by Adam Montefiore
Meni Peer, z”l, has sadly died, just before his 68th birthday, after a courageous fight against cancer. He was an actor in cinema and theatre, and a television personality, who once had the number one prime time chat show, and a superb raconteur.
This multi-talented person was also a wine lover. It started as a hobby, but the world of wine consumed him. He loved to talk about wine, share what he knew and tell stories about wine.
Eventually he became one of the small band of wine writers, travelling abroad to wine exhibitions and supporting the development of Israeli wine. He was the wine writer for Maariv Newspaper and the editor of Israel’s main wine magazine, Wine & Gourmet. When the first wine auctions were held in the 1990’s, he was the obvious choice to be the presenter and auctioneer, which he carried off with flair and panache.
He loved to tell the story of his first encounter of wine, drinking Grenache Rose on the beach. He never saw wine as just a drink, loving to write about the people, the history and folklore. He also had a prodigious memory going way back. He had an ear for the anecdote or historical footnote that makes wine such a unique subject.
His passion was finding what was most Israeli about the local wine scene. He was one of the first to talk up the revival of Carignan, which he saw as the most Israeli wine.
Once or twice I had the honor of doing television slots about wine with him. I was struck at how he prepared before the smallest appearance, rehearsing what he would say beforehand and prepping himself. As such he was the ultimate professional. Of course on camera, he would be fluent, bubbling with enthusiasm and appeared totally spontaneous as though ad libbing. He was the consummate performer.
He was also extremely kind and interested in meeting new people. When he interviewed even young people in the wine trade, the performer took a back seat behind the professionalism of the wine writer. He was never too big a star to be fascinated by the story of others, which is why he wrote so well.
There was nothing about wine he did not like. He was Israel’s number one wine personality, and as such he will be sorely missed. Condolences go to his wife, Carni, his three children and four grandchildren. Suddenly the Israel wine scene seems a less rich place. His memory is a blessing.