These delicious Poached Pears in Red Wine are an elegant and easy-to-make dessert, especially over the holidays and for special occasions. Simmer fresh and ripe pears in fruity red wine, spices, and vanilla bean to enhance the natural sweetness of the fruit.
This classic French dessert is easy to make ahead, and it makes a beautiful presentation at a dinner party or a special holiday dinner that will wow your guests!
The red wine syrup is so good that you just might want to eat it by itself!
For another simple and delicious recipe, try this vegan Cranberry Orange Bread.
Which pears are best for poaching?
Firm yet ripe pears such as Anjou, Bartlett pears, Bosc, Comice, or Russet Bosc pears will work for this recipe. Choose small pears without blemishes, if possible.
How to select a red wine
Choose a bottle of red wine such as a Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhône, Merlot, Shiraz, or Zinfandel. Choose an inexpensive vegan-friendly fruity red wine you enjoy drinking!
Here's what you'll need to make these red wine pears:
- Firm yet ripe fresh pears - the ripeness of your pears is important.
- Fruity red wine such as Beaujolais, Gamay, Pinot Noir - check with Barnivore to ensure it's vegan. There is no need to choose an expensive wine, choose your favorite red wine.
- Orange juice - use fresh orange juice whenever possible.
- Organic cane sugar - this is vegan.
- Cardamom pods - optional.
- Cloves - use whole cloves.
- Cinnamon stick for flavor and spice.
- Star anise for spice.
- Vanilla pod - cut a vanilla bean in half, then cut that half lengthwise.
- Add lemon juice, slices of orange, or ginger.
- Alternatives to wine: Make a double recipe of my simple syrup for poaching with spices, citrus zest, and dried fruit, or poach with fruit juice such as grape juice, apple juice, cranberry juice, or apple cider.
- Non-alcoholic: You can try a non-alcoholic wine or try the suggestions above. Here is a list of alcohol substitutions in cooking. It is hard to say how much alcohol is contained in this dessert because it depends on the cooking method, the alcohol and the amount, and the cooking time.
- Short on time: I recommend making this dessert the day before you plan to serve it. You can cut the pears in half lengthwise and core them before poaching them. They will likely cook faster; check for doneness with a paring knife at around 10 minutes of simmering time.
Red wine: Try late harvest Gewurztraminer, or add Grand Marnier, bourbon, whisky, or brandy.
Orange juice: Try apple cider, cranberry juice, grape juice, or pomegranate juice.
Organic cane sugar: Try different sweeteners such as coconut sugar or brown sugar, or maple syrup.
How to make Poached Pears in Red Wine
It's easy to make this delicious dessert, even if it is your first time. The fragrant aroma emanating from the kitchen while the pears are poaching is irresistible!
You will poach the pears in red wine, orange juice, sugar, and spices; the red wine poaching liquid will reduce to a delicious red wine sauce that you can serve with the pears.
Prepare the pears for poaching
Wash and dry the pears. Cut a thin horizontal slice on the bottom of each pear. Use a melon baller to take out the core; start at the bottom. Leave the stems on the pears. Peel the skins off the pears with a peeler.
Poach the pears
Step 1: Make the hot poaching liquid: Place the wine, water, orange zest, orange juice, cane sugar, spices, and vanilla bean into a saucepan that is large enough to hold all of the pears. Mix and bring to a gentle simmer. Place the pears into a saucepan carefully, making sure they are covered with the liquid, and tilt the pears on their sides.
Step 2: Simmer: Bring the saucepan to a low simmer, cover the saucepan, and simmer for approximately 25 to 30 minutes, until the pears are tender. While cooking, gently rotate them every few minutes with a slotted spoon to ensure they cook evenly in the poaching liquid.
Note: Be gentle to avoid bruising the sides of the pears. Check a pear for doneness with a paring knife - if you meet no resistance, the pears are done.
Let cool and reduce the red wine syrup
Step 3: Let cool and refrigerate: Remove the saucepan from the stovetop when cooked through yet firm. Carefully pick the pears up by their stems or with a slotted spoon.
Step 4: Reduce the red wine syrup before serving. Set the pears aside while you do this, and cook the syrup over low-medium heat until it reduces by at least half, maybe a little more. This can take from 15 to 30 minutes.
Once the pears are cool, place them in an airtight glass container and refrigerate with the cooled poaching liquid, straining out any solids. Gently rotate the pears so that all sides absorb the red wine poaching liquid.
Hint: Check the consistency with a spoon; the syrup should cling to the spoon. If it runs off easily, it needs to cook down more. Let the red wine reduction cool before serving.
How to serve
If you choose to serve a whole pear per serving, this recipe will serve 4. Otherwise, if you serve half a pear, it will serve 8. A whole pear with the delicious sauce is filling, so keep that in mind if your main course is hearty and substantial. Here are some serving suggestions:
- Place half a pear in a bowl and spoon the red wine syrup over the pears. Add a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream or coconut whipped cream if desired.
- Serve these pears warmed or at room temperature with the reduced red wine sugar syrup, along with whipped coconut cream or vegan vanilla ice cream.
- Add them to another dessert, such as a tart or a pavlova, or serve them at brunch.
- Have them for breakfast with vegan yogurt or with pancakes or waffles.
- Drizzle melted vegan dark chocolate over the pears to make Poire Belle Hélène! Serve with vegan vanilla ice cream and top with sliced and toasted almonds.
If you're going to make this recipe, make sure to follow these top tips!
- This recipe is best with ripe pears. Do not choose overripe pears. Otherwise, they will turn mushy while cooking. If you select pears that are not ripe enough, you must cook them longer, up to 1 to 1 ½ hours, and they will not be as sweet.
- As the pears poach, rotate them gently to ensure they cook evenly on all sides.
Refrigerate the pears for up to 5 days. Do not freeze them.
Pour it over vegan vanilla ice cream, or make a vinaigrette.
Reduce the syrup at low-medium heat for 15 to 30 minutes.
They taste a bit sweet and spicy with a bit of tartness from the delicious red wine syrup, which has a fragrant aroma. The delicious flavors will vary depending on the pears, the wine, and the flavorings you choose.
Looking for recipes like this? Try these:
Easy Poached Pears in Red Wine
- 4 pears ripe yet firm, preferably Bosc, peeled, stems left on, washed, dried, and peeled, and cored, leaving the stems on
- 2 ½ cups dry red wine such as a Cotes du Rhone, Barolo, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon, 750 ml
- 4 oz orange juice fresh squeezed, approximately 3 oranges
- ½ cup water
- ¾ cup organic cane sugar
- 4 whole cloves
- 3 cardamom pods optional
- 2 teaspoons orange zest approximately 2 oranges
- 1 cinnamon stick approximately 2-inches long
- 1 whole star anise
- ½ vanilla bean cut in half lengthwise
- Vegan vanilla ice cream or coconut whipped cream for topping, optional
- Place the wine, orange juice, water, cane sugar, cloves, cardamom pods if using, orange zest, cinnamon stick, star anise, and vanilla bean into a saucepan. Mix and bring to a gentle simmer.4 pears, 2 ½ cups dry red wine, 4 oz orange juice, ½ cup water, ¾ cup organic cane sugar, 4 whole cloves, 3 cardamom pods, 2 teaspoons orange zest, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 whole star anise, ½ vanilla bean
- Place pears into saucepan carefully on their sides, making sure they are mostly covered with the liquid.
- Bring the saucepan to a low simmer, cover the saucepan, and simmer for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, until the pears are tender. While they are cooking, gently rotate them every few minutes with a slotted spoon.
- Remove the saucepan from the stove top when they are cooked through yet firm; test a pear with the tip of a paring knife, there should be no resistance. Carefully pick the pears up by their stems and place them in an airtight glass container once they're cool. Strain the red wine syrup if you used vanilla bean and cardamom pods and pour it into the container with the pears, and refrigerate. Occasionally turn the pears.
- The next day, before serving, set the pears aside and cook down the red wine syrup for 15 to 30 minutes in a small saucepan at low-medium heat, until it reduces by half or a little more. Test for thickness with a spoon. When it's ready, let it cool before serving, or refrigerate.
- Serve half a pear in a bowl per serving and spoon the poaching liquid over the pears. Add vegan vanilla ice cream or coconut whipped cream if desired.Vegan vanilla ice cream or coconut whipped cream
- You may slice the pears in half before poaching and serve half a pear per person.
- If you prefer, you can cut the pears in half lengthwise and core them before poaching them. They will likely cook faster, check them for doneness with a paring knife at around 10 minutes of simmering time.
- If you wish to serve a whole pear per serving instead of half a pear, this recipe will serve 4.
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