What Is Tawny Port? The Quick Guide To Portugal’s Famous Fortified Wine

What Is Tawny Port?
Tasting of Portuguese fortified dessert and dry port wine, produced in Douro Valley with Douro river and colorful terraced vineyards on background in autumn, Portugal

What is tawny port? It is a popular type of fortified wine made in Portugal. Most people drink it in small servings since it is sweet and high in alcohol. To help you appreciate the many styles of port wine, let’s take a closer look at this classic wine style.

What Does Tawny Port Taste Like?

Made in Portugal, Tawny Port comes in a variety of styles. The age of the wine and production method influence the taste and flavor profile. Generally speaking, you can expect to taste apricot, plum, walnut, and caramel. A tawny port is typically enjoyed as a dessert or a seasonal treat as a sweet wine. For example, port wine is a popular Christmas drink and other special occasions.

What Is The Difference Between A Port And A Tawny Port?

There are two critical differences: flavor and color. In general, tawny port wine usually have a nutty and caramel flavor. In terms of appearance, a tawny port looks somewhat brown. In contrast, a ruby port has more of a fruity flavor or a fruit berry flavor. Both ruby port and tawny port are sweet-style wines. The overall production process is the same for each type of port.

Why Is Port Called Tawny?

A port is called tawny primarily based on its color. According to the dictionary, tawny means “of an orange-brown or yellowish-brown color.” Therefore, the wine is mainly described based on its appearance.

Wine shops will have a variety of port wines available. Look for port wine in the dessert wines section in smaller wine shops. In other cases, you may be fortunate enough to find wine in the vintage ports section. In wine regions, port wines are exclusively made in Portugal, so do not look for this type of wine in the French wines section of wine shops.

How Do You Drink Tawny Port?

Keep in mind the high alcohol content in port wines as you drink. In most cases, port wines have an alcohol content of 20%. That is double the alcohol content of some white wines! As a result, it is wise to drink port wine in small servings. If a standard glass of wine serving is 5 ounces (i.e., 147 ml), a serving of port wine is much smaller. If you order port wine at a restaurant, expect to receive 3 ounces (i.e., 75 ml).

Once you have a small serving of port wine, consider temperature as well. It is best to serve port wine between 60-64 Fahrenheit (15-17 Celsius). On a related note, storing your port at a constant temperature before drinking it is smart. Wine experts point out a lack of constant temperature storage can quietly damage any type of port and drinks from other wine regions.

Some wine experts like to serve port wine in special glasses. If you do not have a special small glass, a white wine glass also works well.

What Is The Perfect Pairing For Port Wine?

Finding the perfect pairing for port wine is challenging due to its high alcohol levels. For port wine, traditional wine pairing advice includes blue cheese, dark chocolate, walnuts, and figs. For more tips about combining wine and chocolate, check out my post on wine chocolate pairing.

The perfect pairing options get more enjoyable when you have an aged tawny port. For example, you can try decadent desserts like Crème Brûlée and Crème Caramel. In addition, stronger cheeses like stilton can work well. In addition, figs and dried fruit go well with an aged tawny port.

How Long Do Tawny Ports Age?

Whether you use oak casks or another process, aged tawny port can develop for many years. To see the full effect of additional time spent aging, look for the older style of port. If you have no budget, there are ancient wines available. In 2014, Forbes reported on a tawny port made in the 1860s! I very much doubt that wine made in the 19th century will still be drinkable. For more insight about the wine collector craze for old wine – even bottles from the 18th century – read my review of The Billionaire’s Vinegar.

In practical terms, barrels of port are rarely kept for much longer than thirty years. To be sure, look closely at the age statements offered by port wine houses. It is easy to find 10-year old Tawny Port. Also, 20-year old Tawny Port is pretty easy to find as well. You can find a tawny port made twenty year, thirty or forty years old in some cases.

What Is White Port?

As you explore the different types of port available, you may eventually come across a white port. It is a rare kind of port wine made from white wine grapes in the Douro Valley of Portugal. Like other types of port, a white port includes clear brandy. Adding clear brandy stops the fermentation process. White port is typically aged in wooden barrels, which influences the flavor and aromas of the wine. Single vintage white port is often known for its nutty aromas. Non-vintage wines are easier to find, so keep an eye out for that. If you have a larger budget, look for single estate port wine as these tend to be the highest quality.

How To Learn About Wine In A Weekend

Curious to learn more about the effect of oak barrels, soft cheeses, and stainless steel on your wine drinking experience? Your best bet might be to pick up a wine audio course. If you are particularly interested in French wines, listen to The Everyday Guide to Wines of France. If you are looking for a broader introduction to the wine world, check out The Everyday Guide to Wine.

What Is Tawny Port? The Quick Guide To Portugal’s Famous Fortified Wine

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