Ruby vs. Tawny

February 10, 2008

If you enjoy dessert wines, you may have wondered: What's the difference between Ruby and Tawny Port?

Both are sweet wines from Portugal, the difference is that Tawny has been aged in oak barrels and Ruby goes straight into the bottle for aging. The exposure to wood and oxygen lightens Tawny and turns it a light brownish color. Ruby, by contrast, is generally less expensive and considered of lower quality, but I don't agree. I love the deep garnet color and fresh fruit flavor that comes with a Ruby. That's not to say it's my favorite, no, I also enjoy the Tawny, with it's softer and deeper flavors. Overall, I generally struggle with the choice, but I do have some advice. If you are going with a cheap Port, pick the Ruby...the flavors tend to be more predictable in my experience...simple and almost like candy. However, if you are splurging (or someone is treating) then go for an expensive Tawny, they bring more levels of taste and complexity. As a last note, I'd say that cheap Port generally tends to be pretty damn good.

Ruby Tawny

Ruby PortTawny

I'd love to know what you think. Click the Comments link below and share your thoughts.



swetherell's picture

Great article, Barnaby!