Tawny Port vs Ruby Port: The Best Side-By-Side Comparison


Tawny ports and Ruby ports are often compared as they are quite similar. While both are complex, deep sparkling wines and thus potentially good choices for gift giving. But there remains a difference between tawny port and ruby port wine and it is worth explaining in more detail, so that you can make an educated decision when you need to choose a bottle. This article will look into the main differences between Tawny Port and Ruby Port wine.

Before we start comparing the two types of port wines, let us quickly know what is port wine in general.

What is a Port Wine?

If I have to keep this answer short and simple, then it would be something like,

“Port wines are sweet, or you may call them dessert wines that are enjoyed during or after dessert and sometimes considered as a dessert in itself as they are sweet in taste.”

Port wines basically come from a specific region of Portugal’s Douro Valley; in fact, the name “Port” comes from Porto, the coastal city along the Douro River. The authentic wines that come from this region are called “Porto”. They are fortified wines as spirits like brandy or cognac are added to them. They are made from grape varieties like Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca, Tinto Cão, and Tinta Roriz, and there are about at least 52 varieties. Each grape variety adds a unique flavor to the blend. Port wines are produced in many styles such as white, rosé, ruby and tawny.

We’ll discuss the two main types: Tawny and Ruby, and their defining characteristics.

What is Ruby Port Wine?

  • Ruby Port wine is deep red in color and hence its name.
  • Though Port wines are complex wines and are not the basic wines, if you have to choose one port wine that is the closest to basic, it will be this wine.
  • It offers your palate flavors of blackberries, raspberries, cherries, plums, cinnamon, clove, and chocolate.
  • This wine is the youngest type amongst all the other port wines produced. It is ready to enter the markets just after completing its 18-month cycle of ageing.
  • Ruby Port wine is one of the most refreshing port wines. It is the most affordable and popular port wine.
  • After the fermentation of harvested red grapes, it is kept in stainless storage tanks to prevent the oxidation process and to maintain its flavors and freshness intact.
  • It is aged for only two years, which is enough to let it build amazing flavors but not enough to lose its initial fruit identity and body.
  • It is sweet in taste and high in tannins.

What is Tawny Port Wine?

  • Tawny Port Wines are a trendy wine style that can be found anywhere in the world.
  • This wine was produced in the Douro Valley of northern Portugal initially.
  • This wine is made from red grapes then they are aged in barrels made of wood so that they can be oxidised gradually.
  • They have a beautiful golden-brown color.
  • They are sweet and medium dry style wine and considered as dessert wine mainly.
  • If the bottle of ant Tawny wines does not indicate its age, then it means that the wine is a basic blend of wood-aged port and has been typically aged for at least three years.
  • The reserved Tawny port is generally aged for nearly seven years. Above this there are the Tawnies that are aged more than ten years and are labelled as 10, 20, 30, or 40 years. Many houses produce Tawny wines like Borges, Calem, Croft, Cruz, Kopke etc.

Tawny vs Ruby: Comparison Table

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of these two types of port to help you choose your favorite.

Categories Tawny Port Ruby Port
Appearance It has a pale appearance with slightly rusty color. It has a ruby or red color hence the name.
Taste It has notes of cinnamon, clove, white pepper, cherry, caramel, dried apricots, hazelnut, oak, butterscotch, vanilla. It has notes of fruits like blackberries, raspberries, cherries, plums, cinnamon, clove, chocolate.
Sweetness It is also sweet in taste but when compared with Ruby it is more sweet. It is sweet in taste and comes with high tannins.
Alcohol Content It has an alcohol content of 19.5% by volume. It has an alcohol content of 20% by volume.
Ageing Process The basic Tawny is aged for 3 years and the other variants are aged for 10, 20, 30 or even more than that. This port wine is not aged much and best enjoyed young. It is roughly aged for 3 years.
Storage It stops ageing immediately after storage. It continues to age after storage.
Food Pairings It is perfect with nuts, soft cheeses, cheddar, duck liver paté, pear, apple, banana. It can be used to spruce up sauces, cakes, meat, aged cheeses and steak in fruit sauces.
Average Cost Its average is between $18-$35. Its average cost is between $6-$10.

Sum Up of the Differences

Well, now you know that despite being port wines, both of them are pretty much different from each other. Though very distinct in their characteristics, both Port wines do have some similarities too. They have the same origin and are prepared from the same kind of red grapes as well.

  • Both are sweet in taste, but still, the difference can be felt.
  • Even when it comes to ageing, they both show differences again, Tawny can be aged for a long time, but Ruby can only be aged for a short time.
  • The containers in which they are kept for ageing are also made from different materials; Tawny is aged in wooden barrels, and Ruby is aged in the bottle itself.
  • The serving temperature is also different for both of them. Ruby need to be chilled before serving while Tawny is served at room temperature.


We hope that you’ve found this post informative and useful. Tawny port and ruby port are but two sides of the same coin, so to speak, but they come with their own unique set of characteristics. Some might like one style more than the other, while others might prefer to mix things up to keep themselves amused.

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