A Guide to Tawny Port: Our Top 7 Picks For Every Type!

tawny port

In a previous post, we explored everything there is to know about Port wine in general. And we went through all the different types of Port, from Ruby Port being the most produced and most affordable to White Port being the youngest to Rose Port having a distinct pink color to Tawny Port wine.

But to truly appreciate Ports, I believe you must try Aged Tawny Ports.

In this post, we’ll go through Tawny Ports in depth and why they’re some of the most popular port wines. And how their many years of aging in oak barrels gives them their distinctive flavor and color.

Table of Contents

What are Tawny Ports?

port wine made

Tawny Ports are a type of sweet, oak-aged, fortified wines made from red grapes that are grown in the Douro Valley in Portugal. The name “Tawny” comes from the tawny (pale to golden-brown) color that the wine takes on after spending many years aging in oak barrels.

  • Basic Tawny Ports are a blend of Port that has been barrel-aged for at least three (3) years. 
  • Reserve Tawny Ports are aged for at least seven (7) years
  • And you will find the age of any product older than this written on its label. The most common ages you will see are 10, 20, 30 or 40 years.

Also, Tawny ports have a ”nutty” and caramel flavor that develop as a result of oxygen exposure while in the barrel.

And most Tawny Ports are non-vintage wines, which means they are blended from several vintages depending on the house style. And normally it is often consumed as an aperitif or an after-dinner drink. 

Just make sure you use the right port wine glass to enjoy!

What are the Different Types of Tawny Ports?

types of tawny port

Basic Tawny Ports are a blend of Ports that has been oak barrel-aged for at least three (3) years. But the best representation of Tawny Port is Aged Tawny Port. 

Here are the different types of Aged Tawny ports:

Reserve Tawny Port

A young Tawny wine oak-aged for about seven (7) years. And a Tawny Reserve is a port that typically has a medium golden-brown color with fruity undertones.

10-Year Tawny Port

10-Year Tawny spends at least ten (10) years in oak barrels. And the wine has a garnet-red (light brick) color with flavors of toasted nuts, orange peel, and caramelized fruits.

20-Year Tawny Port

20-Year Tawny spends at least twenty (20) years in oak barrels. And the wine has an orange-brown color with flavors of roasted nuts, chocolate, dried fruits, and a soft caramel finish.

30-Year Tawny Port

30-Year Tawny spends at least thirty (30) years in oak barrels. And the wine is a dark brown color and has notes of burnt caramel, honey toasted almonds, while the fruit flavors are now much less.

40-Year Tawny Port

40-Year Tawny spends at least an average of forty (40) years in oak barrels. And the wine is more rich and intense yet soft and elegant. Plus, it has a very dark brown color with subtle flavors of burnt caramel, leather, and dark chocolate. And many more complex flavors of herbs, candied nuts, roasted coffee, and a long lingering finish.

Colheita Port

A Colheita Port is a tawny port that comes from a single vintage. And the wine is aged in oak barrels for at least seven (7) years and the bottling date must be stated on the label.

 Therefore, a Colheita Port is one of the smoothest, silkiest, and fruit forward of all port wines.

What are Tawny Port Flavors?

tawny port flavors

Tawny Port is known for its nutty, caramel, dried fruits, toasted nuts, toffee, leather, and crème brulee flavors. And these flavors are a result of the wine spending many years aging in oak barrels. In addition, the variations in flavors will increase with time.

What is Difference Between Ruby Port and Tawny Port?

Color and Flavor

  • Ruby ports are usually ruby red in color, while Tawny ports tend to be more tawny brown.
  • Ruby ports have a fruity aromas and flavors, while Tawny ports have a nutty, caramel taste.

Ruby ports are aged in either large steel or large wooden casks to prevent oxidization, preserving the wine’s fresh fruity flavors and maintain its young ruby color. Since Ruby Ports are filtered and sometimes pasteurized before bottling, they do not improve with age.

While Tawny ports are aged in small oak barrels called pipas, resulting in a change in color and flavor due to the close contact with the wood and more surface exposure to oxygen. Also the Tawny color and nutty, aged aromas are even more produced by aging in the heat of the upper Douro region, commonly known as the “Douro Bake.”

What is the Difference Between Vintage Port and Tawny Port?

  • Vintage Port is made from the grapes of a specific year, while Tawny Port are non-vintage and a blend of several vintages. 
  • Also, Vintage Ports are wines aged in large oak casks while Tawny Port wines are aged in a smaller oak barrels.
  • And lastly, the most expensive vintage ports can cost up to thousands to even up to $100K. 

Our Top 7 Favorite Tawny Port Wine

Keep in mind the older the Tawny the higher the price tag!

We independently select and recommend the best products. So when you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change by sellers at anytime.

At under $20, this is a superb Tawny. It has a light tawny color with aromas of fresh red fruits, toasted nuts, and smoke. And the palate is medium-bodied with flavors of caramelized fruits, dried berries, and and a hint of chocolate on the finish. 

Another great choice under $20, Croft Reserve Tawny is a non-vintage tawny has aromas of toasted nuts, caramel, and dried fruits. And the palate is full-bodied with flavors of raisins, roasted nuts, dried fruits, and a long caramel finish.

This Tawny Port wine has spent at least ten (10) years in oak barrels and it shows. With a deep tawny color with aromas and flavors of caramel, dried fruits, sweet spice, raisins, and a hint of acidity.

One of my favorite Tawny Ports! This is a fantastic, not too sweet Tawny that has wood-aging flavors of oak, vanilla, and caramel! It has a deep tawny color with plenty of rich flavors of dried fruit flavors. And the wine’s intense spice and acidity help to balance it out. Just a wonderful port to end the evening.

From a well-known Port house, this is another excellent 20-Year Tawny Port wine! It has a beautiful tawny color with aromatic aromas that lead to flavors of dried fig, toffee, caramel apple, and roasted nuts. And the wine has a long, sweet finish.

This is an outstanding Tawny Port wine with a deep tawny color and flavors of caramel, orange peel, dried fruits, almonds, and toffee. Plus, it has an elegant and smooth finish to go along with the wood-aged flavors.

Taylor's 40 Year Old Tawny Port N.V. wine spectator

To be honest it’s hard to go wrong with any 40 year old Tawny. But this one is definitely a shining star! Scored 95 pts on Wine Spectator. 

This tawny has flavors of oak, vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, walnuts, dark black plums, creamy and lengthy finish. And there are so many more complex flavors that keep coming up when I go back and taste this wine. Simply amazing!


Is Tawny Port dry or sweet?

Tawny port wines are very sweet. And the wine’s sweet, syrupy flavor makes it an excellent dessert wine or as an aperitif.

Is Tawny port good?

Yes they are sweet, aromatic, oak-aged, fortified wines that have complex flavors. And if you enjoy deserts and wine, Tawny ports are not just good but a fantastic pairing!

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