Like its younger cousin, tawny port, aged tawny port is one of the two most-popular wines aged in Portugal. Both tawny and aged tawny port begin as ruby port, but instead of aging the wine between two to seven years to create tawny port, aged tawny port is kept at least ten years in wood. Oftentimes, aged tawny port is held even longer. The longer aged tawny port is allowed to age, the greater its complexity becomes. It also tastes more smooth and mellow.
While just about any ruby port can be made into a tawny port, only the “best” blends of ruby port are utilized to make aged tawny port. Aged tawny port is commonly aged for ten years at a time. Therefore, you’ll find bottles indicating the wine has aged for ten, twenty, thirty, or forty years. These numbers are good approximations of aging, since they indicate the age of the wine’s “average” blend. (Read about how port is made here.)
The older the aged tawny port, the richer, softer, and smoother it tastes. In addition to being a joy on the tongue, its level of complexity increases substantially with age. Though many people try less-expensive tawny ports aged for ten years, first, I’d recommend having a twenty-year old bottle for your first taste of aged tawny port. Why? There will be a much more noticeable difference between your aged twenty-year bottle and a glass of regular, seven-year tawny. Curious? Have a glass, and see what you think!