Tawny, Ruby, Vintage? How to choose your Port wine?
The production of Port wines
The production of Port wines begins at the end of the summer with the harvest on the steep terraces overlooking the Douro River and continues with the crushing in large granite basins (lagares). The juice, thus obtained, is then put in tanks to start fermenting.
It is during this fermentation that wine brandy is added. This operation, called mutage, stops the fermentation. The wine keeps its sugar and its fruitiness.
When the wine is mutated, it is stable and it settles during the winter. The suspended matter falls to the bottom of the tank and the successive rackings allow to clarify it.
The following spring, the port wine leaves the quintas to be aged in the cellars of the merchants located in Porto, more precisely in Vila Nova de Gaia.
It is then that it begins a more or less long aging, either in barrels or in bottles to become a ruby, tawny or vintage port.
Ruby Port wine
Ruby Port is a Port wine that is not aged or slightly aged in oak barrels, which gives it an intense dark red color and a fruity, full-bodied flavor.
Ruby Port is usually consumed young as it is produced to be drunk quickly and does not age well in bottle.
Moderately complex, it is often served slightly chilled, which enhances its fruity flavor and acidity. It is consumed as an after-dinner wine, accompanying desserts such as fruit pies, chocolate cakes or strong cheeses.
Tawny Port wine
Tawny Port is a Port wine aged in oak barrels, which gives it a lighter color and milder flavor than Ruby Port.
It is available in a range of ages, from 10 to 40 years. The older wines are more refined and sweeter. Older Tawny Ports lose alcohol strength but gain in silkiness and harmony, just like older brandies.
With its bewitching aromas of spices, roasted or candied fruit, Tawny Port favors elegance and is often consumed alone as an aperitif or digestive. It is also perfect to accompany desserts with nuts or chocolate.
Vintage Port wine
Vintage Port is a Port wine produced from selected grapes harvested during a single season. It is aged for two years in oak barrels before being bottled, where it can age for many years.
Vintage Port is considered one of the best Port wines, with higher quality and complexity than other types of Port. It offers rich and complex flavors of red fruits, chocolate and nuts.
In the 18th century, Port wine was a favorite of the British court, which had close trade ties with Portugal. Vintage Port was served at royal banquets and was considered a symbol of prestige and refinement.
It is considered one of the most prestigious and sophisticated wines and is often offered on special occasions, such as birthdays, weddings or celebrations.
How to choose?
Ultimately, the choice between Tawny Port, Ruby Port and Vintage Port depends on both your taste preferences and the occasion for which you plan to drink it.
If you are looking for a smooth and refined wine, Tawny Port is an excellent choice. If you prefer a fuller bodied, fruity wine, choose Ruby Port. If you are looking for the best of the best, Vintage Port is the perfect option for a special occasion or as a gift.