Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.
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Dear Dr. Vinny,
I've recently developed a taste for tawny Ports, and I'm interested in finding out what it is about aging in oak that gives it the distinct flavor.
—Bruce, Boca Raton, Fla.
Oxidation. Tawny Ports are paler and browner and, uh, tawnier than traditional Ports. They have a mellow, nutty, slightly woody, dried-fruit character, derived from contact with air during long maturation in porous wooden casks. The good news is that since tawnies have already been exposed to oxygen, an open bottle of tawny will keep longer than other bottles of Port.
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