Difference Between Ruby and Tawny Port (With Table)

Port wine is one of the most authentic fortified wines originated from Portugal. Port is a short form for Portugal. 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 over the world where Port wines can be found in 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.

Ruby vs Tawny Port

The difference between Ruby and Tawny Port is that Tawny is older and slightly sweeter than Ruby Port. Ruby Port has berry and chocolate flavour, whereas Tawny Port has the flavour of caramel and nuts.

Comparison Table Between Ruby and Tawny Port

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 has very short ageing, i.e., of 3 years generally, 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 the process of 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 its young state. Reserve, Late Bottled Reserve, Crusted, Vintage and Single Quinta are the speciality in Red Ports which are extremely worthy and luscious in taste.

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

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

What is Tawny Port?

Being the most vintage form of Port wines, Tawny Port has rusty sort of 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 that are aged for as long as 20 years.

The process of oxidation that takes place during the ageing ensures the golden-brown or the rusty colour of the Tawny Port. Due to the long ageing process and exposure of grapes 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 being the ageing years of grapes 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.

On an interesting note, 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.

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 in colour.
  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 needs to be served chilled but Tawny Port should be served slightly cooler than that.
  6. Ruby Port keeps improving with time, 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.

Conclusion

The authenticity and richness of Port wines are still very much in demand. Ruby Port and Tawny Port are the perfect examples of it. Though very distinct in their characteristics, both Ports do have some similarities too. They have the same origin and are prepared from the same red grapes as well. The alcohol content in both Ports is also the same, i.e., about 20 per cent. On the other hand, the varying traits of Ruby and Tawny Ports are a bag full such as the colours, flavours, ageing process and storage.
Even after having such a strange set of differences and similarities, the Ruby and Tawny Ports are equally preferred and sold based on their richness.

References

  1. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/article-abstract/537086
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0963996914006991
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