Difference Between Ruby and Tawny Port

Port wine is one of the most authentic fortified wines that originated in Portugal. Port is a short form for Portugal.


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It is generally a sweet wine having the flavour of raspberry, blackberry, cinnamon, caramel and chocolate sauce. It’s exactly as delicious as it sounds!

Because of this factor in its taste, it is commonly taken as a dessert wine.

Nowadays, everything has a replica of its own. There are many places worldwide where Port wines can be found at cheaper rates. No doubt, they are average in quality.

It’s because the original Port wines cost no less than a hundred dollars and can only be made in Portugal.

Officially, there are various categories of Port, but most of them come under these four, i.e., Ruby Port, Tawny Port, White Port and Rose Port. Ruby Port and Tawny Port are the two major ones.

Key Takeaways

  1. Ruby Port is a sweet, full-bodied red wine made by blending different grape varieties, while Tawny Port is a type of fortified wine that is aged for a longer time in oak barrels.
  2. Ruby Port is known for its fruity and berry flavors, while Tawny Port has a nutty, caramel, and toffee flavor with a smooth finish.
  3. Ruby Port is usually served at room temperature, while Tawny Port is served slightly chilled and can be stored long after opening.

Ruby vs Tawny Port

Port wine comes in two varieties: ruby and tawny. Ruby port is often younger and aged for a shorter period, resulting in a more vibrant, fruity flavour. Tawny port is aged longer, giving it a darker hue and a smoother, nuttier flavour.

Ruby vs Tawny Port

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Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonRuby PortTawny Port
TasteIt is less sweet.It is sweeter than Ruby Port.
ColorIt is ruby or deep red.Whereas it is slightly rusty.
FlavourFruity in flavour with berry and chocolate hints. Nutty in flavour and has caramel, butterscotch flavours too.
Ageing processIt generally has very short ageing, i.e., of 3 years, and it keeps improving with time. It takes almost 20 years to age and be ready.
StorageIt continues to age after storage. It stops ageing immediately after storage.
AccompanimentsIt goes best when combined with chocolate and fruity dishes.It goes best with nutty desserts and savoury-flavoured dishes.

What is Ruby Port?

As the name suggests, Ruby Port has a ruby or deep red colour. It is one of the most flavourful and freshest Port wines.

It is sweet and has the flavour of fruits and chocolates. It is prepared from a mixture of red grapes and is then fortified.

It usually takes not more than three years to age and acquires its rich colour and fresh flavours.

Ruby Port sets the record of being the least costly but the most produced wine. After fermentation, it is kept in stainless steel or concrete storage tanks to avoid oxidative contact to keep its colour and fruitiness intact.

As the youngest of all the Port styles, Ruby Ports are mostly consumed in their young state. Reserve, Late Bottled Reserve, Crusted, Vintage and Single Quinta are the speciality in Red Ports, which taste extremely worthy and luscious.

Served slightly chilled, the Ruby Port compliments the fruits and chocolate-flavoured desserts or recipes. To be precise, berries, strong cheeses, salads with fruit, chocolate cakes, and cherry pie are some of them.

Moreover, Ruby Ports are used in laser treatment in some special cases of cosmetic surgery and diabetes.

ruby port

What is Tawny Port?

Being the most vintage form of Port wines, Tawny Port has a rusty colour. It is slightly sweeter than the Ruby Port and is rich in the flavour of caramel and nuts.

Like Ruby Port, it is also prepared from a mixture of red grapes aged for as long as 20 years.

The oxidation process during the ageing ensures the golden-brown or rusty colour of the Tawny Port. Due to the long ageing process and grapes’ exposure to the wooden barrels, the fruity flavour of the grapes transforms into a nuttier one.

Tawny Port contains a wide range of flavours and is a complex Port wine.

Tawny Ports come in a variety of Port styles. Some are marked with the minimum number of years the grapes present are aged for.

Colheita, Tawny 10, Tawny 20, Tawny 30 and Tawny 40 are the styles of Tawny Port. 10, 20, 30 and 40 are grapes’ ageing years, respectively.

With less fruitiness and nuttier flavour, the Tawny tastes best when paired with savoury/salty and nutty food dishes such as nuts, soft cheeses, milk chocolates, caramel cheesecakes and apple pie. It is served cooler than the Ruby Port.

Interestingly, due to its long ageing process, the Tawny Port was found to nurture some anti-proliferative activity that tends to prevent the spread of malignant cells.

tawny port

Main Differences Between Ruby and Tawny Port

  1. Ruby Port is a young version of Port wine, whereas Tawny Port is the older one.
  2. Ruby Port is deep red, while the Tawny Port is rusty.
  3. Ruby has short-term ageing and takes 3 years to age. But Tawny has long-term ageing and takes about 20 years to age.
  4. Tawny is sweeter and is rich in nutty and caramel flavours, while Ruby is known for its fruitiness.
  5. Ruby Port should be served chilled, but Tawny Port should be served slightly cooler.
  6. Ruby Port keeps improving, whereas Tawny Port stops ageing after storage.
  7. Ruby Port tastes best with chocolate-flavoured and fruity dishes, but Tawny Port tastes best with savoury and nutty dishes.
Difference Between Ruby and Tawny Port
  1. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/article-abstract/537086
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0963996914006991
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