There are thousands of wholly debatable rules with regard to how coffee should and should not be consumed. However, the rule that says you should never, under any circumstance pair coffee with wine is one that’s generally been followed by the masses with little to no argument. After all, the very idea of pairing wine with coffee seems absurd at best, criminal at worst.


Or so you would have thought, but one of the world’s leading wine critics recently threw out a pretty sizeable curveball by suggesting that we’ve been approaching the idea with a blinkered view all along. Harvey Steiman of Wine Spectator sort of came out of nowhere with a new rule…or at least an opinion…which in the space of a few short words totally went against everything we thought we knew about the wine and coffee debacle.


The idea that coffee ruins wine was referred to by the man himself as a ‘myth’ that needed busting, both for the benefit of coffee crowds and wine lovers alike. Having taken a trip to Hawaii and found himself gorging on a posh tasting menu, he wanted to see whether or not it would be possible to enjoy wine and coffee together in a manner that would benefit the general experience delivered by both. Now, you might argue that he’d be a little on the biased side given that the restaurant in question is owned and operated by his cousin, but at the same time there’s no denying the bravery of his conclusions.


Faced with two very different red wines, a crisp white wine and a shot of espresso, he decided to take decades of firmly-held belief into his hands and see what the real truth of the matter was.


We tasted the wine first, talking about grape variety, site and winemaking. Then we tried what we thought might be a parallel style of coffee, discussing its origin, roast and technique,” he wrote.


“Tasting back and forth, it quickly became clear that neither beverage harmed the other, even though we started with the richest, so the barista could join us after making espressos for the group.”

Such words basically lay waste to pretty unanimous theories that to affect the taste buds with coffee prior to getting stuck into a nice wine would be a little like chewing peppermint gum just before a latte…wrong on so many levels. Not that he’s of the impression that the coffee didn’t affect the wine at all, but in his interpretation the impact of the espresso on the wine’s flavour was nothing but a good thing.


In all three pairs the coffee’s delicate bitterness brought out the wine’s more charming aspects,” he added.


Now, what’s of course interesting to note is the way in which he didn’t even touch upon how the wine affected the taste of the coffee one way or the other, which for us at least would have proved a great deal more interesting. Still, it’s good to know that next time you decide to follow your espresso with a glass of wine or even order the two at the same time, there’s expert wisdom on your side if your dining companions pull faces and basically make out that you’re out of your mind.


Good to know, isn’t it?