You might’ve read about port wine in books or might’ve seen one in a store; it is a wine that is usually consumed as a dessert. However, the port wine is a lot more than just Dessert wine, and it is rich in aromas and different flavors. In this guide, we will discuss the characteristics of two types of ports: Ruby and Tawny.

Tawny vs Ruby Port

The Difference

There are some major differences between Ruby and Tawny Port:

  • Tawny has a long aging period, whereas Ruby can only age for a short period.
  • Tawny usually ages in barrels made of oak; Ruby can also be served as a dessert.
  • Tawny is cold; Ruby needs to be cooled down, as it is usually served with chillers.
  • Tawny has a nutty flavor, whereas Ruby’s flavor is sweet.

What is Port Wine?

What is Port Wine

Port is a fortified wine and is one of the most popular fortified wines in the world. Fortified wines are different from regular wines; they contain a high content of alcohol, which is added to the wine during the fermentation process. As a result, the fortified wine has a dry fruit flavor and is extremely sweet.

Where Does Port Wine Come From?

The central hub of port wine is in Portugal, in the valley of Douro. While other places claim that they originated the wine, it is untrue; genuine port wine originated in Portugal. There is also history behind the label; Porto is the name of a city situated at the base of the valley of Douro. The first ship carrying the wine sailed from Porto to England in 1658.

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In 1756, the Portuguese government established its geographical boundaries and gave the valley of Douro the appellation status.

Climate and Geographical Conditions

Climate and Geographical Conditions
  • The climate of the valley of Douro is quite diverse; to the west is Baixo Corgo; it records the highest rainfall annually and also produces the best-quality vines. The vines from this region of Douro create a Port wine that is light young.
  • To the east of the valley of Douro lies an area called Cima Corgo. Cima Corgo’s climate differs from that of Baixo Corgo as it has a dry climate. However, this region has one of the best vineyards that offer a concentrated and long-lasting Port wine.
  • Along the border of Spain and Portugal lies a region called Douro Superior; this area has a hot and dry climate. The Vineyards of this area produce grapes that make Vintage Port.

Vineyards in the Douro valley usually use soil that comes from the riverbank. Due to such a diverse climate, the valley of Douro can produce Port wines that have complex flavors.


Genuine Port wine is only manufactured in the Douro valley of Portugal, which is why only a few varieties of grapes go into its production. Each grape variety offers a different flavor, white grapes go into the production of White Port, and red grapes are used to make Tawny and Ruby ports. As a result, port wine has diverse flavors; it contains different varieties of grapes that grow in different vineyards.

How is Port Wine Made?


The varieties of grapes that grow into the production of Port Wine are grown throughout the summer months and are harvested in the winter season.

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Once the grapes are harvested, they go through the process of pressing. Some vineyards use technology such as pressing machines to extract the juice from the grapes, while other vineyards still use the traditional method of pressing grapes with feet.



The grapes that have been pressed are then left to ferment for a week.


Once the alcohol content in the wine rises and reached approximately 7 %, other varieties of alcohol or brandy are added to the wine. The addition of alcohol fortifies the wine and increases its sweetness, which is why Port Wine is often called Dessert Wine.


The Port wine ages in oak barrels for four to eighteen months; once the aging process is over, the wine is shipped from the river of Douro to different regions.

Tawny Port

Tawny port is more complex than Ruby port because it has a much different flavor. The history of Tawny port also differs from Ruby port. However, the grapes that are used to make Ruby port also make Tawny port. The aging process of Tawny port is longer than Ruby port, as it is aged in oak until its red color fades away.

How is Tawny Port Made?

The process of making Tawny port is largely similar to Ruby port, but there is an exception, Tawny port is aged in oak barrels for over three years. The grapes for Tawny port are also harvested in the winter months; they go through fermentation and the wine is also fortified. The oak barrels provide more oxygen to the Tawny port, enabling it to shed its red color.

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However, Tawny port wine can be aged for over forty years. The flavor of Tawny port is nutty, as the aging process usually releases the flavor of cinnamon and fruits.

Is Tawny Port Expensive?

Is Tawny Port Expensive

Yes. The tawny port usually costs more than Ruby port, and it all comes down to the long aging process that the Tawny wine goes through. A bottle of Tawny wine can go for anywhere from $ 18 to $ 35. However, some Tawny ports are so expensive that they come with a price tag of over $ 250.

Summing it up

In this guide, we have provided all the details for Ruby and Tawny wines. Once you’ve read this guide, your confusion will most likely end. However, there are differences between Ruby and Tawny wines, and it is important to understand them. It is also necessary to understand the aging and fermentation process of port wines, the grapes that are used in their production, and the place they originated from. You can also pair Tawny and Ruby wine with different food items, and due to its sweetness, the Ruby wine can also be consumed as a dessert.

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