Tawny vs Port
British discovered Port wine in the 17th century. It is also called fortified wine or simply Porto and comes from Douro Valley in Portugal. It is a sweet and red wine that is considered a dessert among wines. Though this kind of wine can be produced in many other parts of the world, it is only the product that has been made in the specified region, in Portugal that is labeled as Port just like Tequila in Mexico and Cognac in France. There is another wine called Tawny that confuses many as it is seen commonly on the tables in parties and conferences. The confusion is because of many similarities between Tawny and Port. This article attempts to highlight the differences between the two types of wines.
Port wine cones into existence in much the same way as do all other wines. The only difference between port and other wines is that it is the name given to wine produced in Douro valley of Portugal. Grape varieties grown in this valley are plucked that are know to produce dense and concentrated juice. These grape varieties impart the unique flavor and aroma to the wine making it Port wine. The best varieties of red grapes that are used to make port wine in Portugal are Tourica Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Cao, Tinta Barroca etc but in total there are 30 different red grapes varieties that are used in making Port wine. Only the best grapes are taken to the winery in trays, and there they are de-stemmed and some also rejected by the wine maker. Selected grapes are placed in large tanks that are almost thigh deep called lagares and trodden by foot to crush the grapes. In the 2nd stage, treaders walk freely individually in the tanks. Treaders make use of wooden plungers to keep the skins of the grapes submerged under the juices, to allow the fermentation process. Instead of manual treading, there is also a process of mechanical extraction of juices from the grapes.
During fermentation, when nearly half of the natural sugar of the juices is eaten away by the yeast and converted into alcohol, fortification process is started. The skins of the grapes that are pushed down are now allowed to come to the surface to make a solid layer. The fermenting wine under this layer is poured into a vat and around one third by volume of brandy is added to it which raises the strength of the wine so much that yeast can no longer survive in it. This means that some natural sweetness of grapes remains in the fortified wine. This wine is then taken to ageing casks where it gets turned into different types of aged wines.
Port wines are aged in two different ways called reductive and oxidative ageing. When they are aged in sealed glass bottles with no contact with air, it is called reductive ageing and the wine loses its color in a very slow manner and the wine thus produced in smoother in texture and flavor. Ageing in wooden barrels allows exposure to air thus being called oxidative ageing. Color loss is faster and the wine obtained is also thicker. Tawny ports are wines that are aged in wooden barrels. Oxidation and evaporation makes these wines golden brown in color and imparts a nutty flavor to them. Tawny is sweet and used as a dessert wine. When you get a bottle labeled Tawny only, you can assume that it has spent around 2 years in wooden barrels. However, there can be Tawny ports having been aged for 10, 20, 30, even 40 years in wooden barrels.
What is the difference between Tawny and Port?
• Tawny is a type of Port wine
• Tawny has a nutty flavor that is a result of oxidative ageing in wooden barrels while the port is wine made exclusively in an area of Portugal
• The major difference between port and tawny lies in ageing period