The more complex style of port, such as aged Tawny, has a slightly different story and a slightly different flavor.
Made with the same grapes as Ruby Ports, Tawny port has been aged in oak long enough for the rich red color to fade to deep mahogany.
What does Tawny Port taste like?
Because of the longer aging and longer contact with wood, the fresh fruit character of ruby ports changes into a nuttier and caramel profile.
Tawny port is a little more complex and has a wider array of flavors!
General Tawny flavors:
- Cinnamon (Younger)
- White Pepper
- Dried Raisins
- Dried Apricots
- Graham Cracker
- Vanilla (Older)
How is Tawny Port Made?
Tawny ports also follow the general port-making process with the notable exception that they spend less time on the skins which reduce the red color and obviously fruity character.
- Fall Harvest
- However, after being fortified, tawny ports are allowed to age in oak barrels for 3 years minimum.
Unlike Ruby and some Vintage ports, Tawny ports are aged in small oak barrels which provides a greater introduction to oxygen. This slow oxygenation causes the loss of red color and allows them to keep much longer once opened.
A basic Tawny port is aged for 3 years and has only vague nutty flavors.
After that, Tawny ports can be aged for up to 40+ years for a regular tawny, and longer for specialty bottles.
The longer a Tawny ages, the less fruit, and cinnamon it contains and the stronger nut and caramel flavors appear!
Aged and Other Specialty Tawny Ports
Tawny ports can come in a variety of styles.
The year mark on some ports indicates the minimum age of all the grapes included in the bottle. If you have a Tawny 10, none of the grapes are younger than 10 years and some are much older!
- Colheita – all grapes were harvested in the same year
- Tawny 10 – minimum age of grapes is 10 years, raspberry, cinnamon
- Tawny 20 – minimum age of grapes is 20 years, caramel, cinnamon
- Tawny 30 – minimum age of grapes is 30 years, smooth, nutty, caramel
- Tawny 40 – minimum age of grapes is 40 years, smooth, very nutty, butterscotch, vanilla
Tawny 10, 20, and 40 are all aged in oak barrels to allow oxidation and wood contact.
After all this aging, the tannins breakdown and we’re left with velvety smoothness and mellowed nuanced flavors.
What food pairs with Tawny Port?
Tawny port’s nuttier and less sweet-fruit character makes it perfect for pairing with salty and nutty foods.
- Soft Cheeses
- Duck Liver Paté
- Foie Gras
- Cornish Hens
- Pear, apple, banana
Tawny Port is less likely to be served as a dessert on its own. (Though if you’re feeling just a nice Tawny for dessert, more power to you!)
- Milk chocolate
- Crème Brûlée
- Pecan pie
- Caramel Cheesecake
- Apple Pie
- Coconut Cream Pie
How to serve Tawny Port?
Tawny ports can be served a little cooler than Ruby ports. 50-58 degrees is the ideal range, although you can go up to 60 degrees as well.
Don’t serve directly out of the fridge, let them rest about 15 minutes before serving to take some of the chills off and allow the flavors to come forward.
No need to decant with Tawnies that are 10, 20, or 30 years. They shouldn’t have any sediment.
Tawny Port Cocktails:
- Trafalgar Punch
- Mint Julep Variations
- Bitter Harbor
How much does Tawny Port Cost?
Tawny port is usually a little more expensive than Ruby port since it ages longer.
A regular bottle of Tawny port can cost you around $18-$35.
The longer they’ve aged, the more expensive they get. Some aged ports can cost around $150-200!