Poached pears in red wine are a delicious dessert, which joins the pleasure to eat fruit in an unusual way and the possibility to offer a dessert lighter than usual. It is free from animal products and indulges even the pickiest palates or our guests who suffer from food intolerances.

Pears, red wine, sugar and spices join in a magic blending which evokes winter and evenings spent in front of a fireplace. Traditionally they were cooked in the oven, in an Aga. The smell invaded all the house, but even now, even if we cook them in a pot, the scent which pervades all the house is heavenly. It recalls the atmosphere of Christmas Markets and the mulled wine you are served there

If you want to add a more personal touch to this dish, you could serve the pears on a bed of custard or Mascarpone sauce, and pour the wine reduction on it. If you also add some wild berries you could give a kick to a dessert that tends to be very sweet.

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
40 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4 people
  • 4 pears ripe but firm
  • 1+1/8 cup (300 ml.) red wine
  • 4/5 cup (200 ml.) water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 star anises
  • 2 cardamom berries, crushed
  1. Combine water, wine, and sugar in a heavy pot. Peel pears without discarding the stalk. Put apart.

  2. Bring the liquid to boil and add the spices, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add pears to cooking liquid. Return cooking liquid to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until pears are tender, basting occasionally with cooking liquid if necessary, about 10-15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pears to a bowl.

  3. Strain cooking liquid; discard solids. Return cooking liquid to pot. Boil until reduced to a syrup. Chill until pears are cold. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

  4. Pour syrup over pears. I suggest serving them on a custard or Mascarpone, joining also some berries in order to give a kick to a very sweet dessert.

Recipe Notes

Anise star and cardamom are not used very frequently: they can be replaced by 6 2x1-inch strips lemon or orange peel (colored part only).

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the Author

Growing up in Emilia Romagna, a region known for Parmesan, Parma ham, lasagna, and filled pasta, a great deal of my childhood was spent in the kitchen with my grandmother and mother.

Even at a very young age, I could see that for them cooking was a passionate expression of their love for their family. While I’m filled with many warm memories of watching them cook, what I remember most is circling the table and watching the stove, waiting for any opportunity I could to steal a taste.