Red wine and mulling spices make wine poached pears a fragrant & warming dessert or special brunch dish.
Adding appeal to this dish is the addition of mulling spices—cinnamon, cloves and orange peel—for a fragrant and warming dessert.
This wine poached pear recipe is based on one from Ellie Krieger and is perfect for fall and winter.
What are Wine-Poached Pears?
According to WIkipedia, “The Poire à la Beaujolaise or pear in wine is a traditional dessert of the wine-growing region of Beaujolais, and belonging to the cuisine of Burgundy and Lyon” and dating at least to the early 19th century.
And while that may be its origin, using a Beaujolaise wine is not a requirement when you make this dessert!
Why You’ll Love This!
Tasty. The gentle pear flavor beautifully compliments the warm, spiced wine flavors. It may make you forget the weather’s turned!
Healthier. How often do you get a full serving of fruit in a dessert. And although I’ve read that you can’t count on the alcohol 100% cooking out in recipes, it’s just lightly boozy.
Elegant. Wine and pears are both lovely and elegant foods. Put them together, it’s sublime!
Rescue imperfect pears. While you don’t want to use overripe pears (they’re too fragile), a slightly underripe pear will sometimes mull into perfection in this dish!
What You’ll Need
- Red wine. This creates the syrup that the pears are poached in.
- Sugar. This sweetens the poaching liquid (wine).
- An Orange. You use both a strip of zest and the juice from an orange
- Cinnamon Stick, Whole Cloves. These with the orange peel add warm spice notes to the wine.
- Pears. I have used differed varieties, but they must be firm. Very ripe pears may disintegrate the cooking process.
- No special tools required!
Step by Step Directions
In a saucepan that just fits the pears, combine wine, sugar, orange juice, zest, cinnamon stick and cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
While the liquid is simmering, peel pears carefully, leaving the stem intact. Slice 1/2-inch off the bottom of the pears if needed to create a flat bottom.
Remove the spices from the wine, then gently place pears in poaching liquid. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes to ensure even color. Pears are done when cooked and firm/tender. Remove pears from the wine if you are serving immediately or you can refrigerate them in the pan with the wine.
Optionally boil wine until it is syrupy. Place a pear into a serving dish. If you’ve reduced the wine, drizzle a couple spoonfuls over each pear. Serve warm, room temperature, or chilled.
How to Serve
Wine poached pears are lovely as an elegant dessert, especially after a larger meal when finishing with something light is welcome.
While they can be served any temperature (chilled, room temperature or warm), I personally prefer them warm.
I like to serve this in some vintage glass dishes that I got from my grandmother. But any smaller bowl or dish–or even a small plate or saucer–could work.
Now some people like to add whipped cream or even ice cream, but I find wine poached pears lovely all by themselves. Although for a nice brunch, I would consider serving chilled with a drizzle (or side) of crème anglaise.
Variations and Special Diets
If you’re loving the idea of pears with wine, take a look at my Canned Pears in White Wine Syrup. And for some other amazing pear recipes, consider my Pear Custard Pie or 10 Minute (Beautiful) French Pear Tart.
This recipe is vegan and vegetarian.
Leftovers can be kept covered and refrigerated for a few days. They can be eaten cold or rewarmed, per your preference.
Tips & FAQs
Try to fit the pears fairly snuggly in the pan but with room to turn. The higher up the wine sits, the easier it is for the wine to soak in with less turning. And the less you turn the pears, the less likely you are to damage them.
What type of wine should I use? You’ll want to use a wine that you could drink but which isn’t too expensive. I love the cooking with the Trader Joe’s reserve wines–currently made with organic grapes even! In terms of type, Wikipedia suggests a fruity wine but I’d say go with a Merlot if you love Merlot, Cabernet if you love cab, etc. Since the wine syrup is sweetened, it doesn’t even matter too much if you go with a sweet or dry wine.
What type of pear should I use? I have used different types of pears successfully in this. What is very important is that the pear is firm and not bordering on overripe. I would not use an Asian pear for this since it won’t get as tender–and isn’t technically a pear anyway.
Best Pear Recipes
- Pear and Almond Tart from Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Pear and Walnut Cheese Ball from Palatable Pastime
- Pear Vanilla Jam from Jen Around the World
- Poached Pears from Art of Natural Living
- Spiced Pear Scones from Hezzi-D’s Recipe Box
Wine Poached Pears
- 2 cups red wine such merlot
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 orange juiced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 1 by 3-inch strip orange zest
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 4 firm ripe pears
- In a saucepan that just fits the pears, combine wine, sugar, orange juice, zest, cinnamon stick and cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- While the liquid is simmering, peel pears carefully, leaving the stem intact. Slice 1/2-inch off the bottom of the pears to create a flat bottom.
- Remove the spices from the syrup, then gently place pears in poaching liquid. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes to ensure even color. Pears are done when cooked and firm/tender. Remove pears from the wine if you are serving immediately or you can refrigerate them in the pan with the wine.
- Optionally boil wine until it is thickened and syrupy. Place a pear into a serving dish. If you’ve reduced the wine, drizzle a couple spoonfuls over each pear.
- Serve warm, room temperature, or chilled.
Updated from original, published on Aug 23, 2015.
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