These delicious make-ahead Poached Pears in Red Wine are an elegant and easy-to-make dessert, especially over the holidays. Pears are simmered in a fruity red wine and spices to enhance the natural sweetness of the fruit.
This classic French dessert makes a beautiful presentation that will wow your guests at the holiday table! You can enjoy the red wine poached pears with the reduced red wine sugar syrup and vegan ice cream or coconut whipped cream, or add them to another dessert such as a tart or a pavlova.
The red wine syrup is so good; you'll want to eat it by itself!
Which pears are best for poaching?
Firm yet ripe pears such as Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, Comice, or Russet Bosc pears will work for this recipe. Choose small pears without blemishes, if possible.
How to select a wine
Choose a fruity red wine such as a Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhône, Merlot, Shiraz, or Zinfandel. Choose an inexpensive vegan-friendly wine you enjoy drinking!
Here's what you'll need to make these red wine pears:
- Firm yet ripe pears
- Fruity red wine
- Orange juice - use fresh orange juice.
- Organic cane sugar - this is vegan.
- Cardamom pods - optional. I would have added them if I had them.
- Cloves - use whole cloves.
- Cinnamon stick for flavor and spice.
- Star anise for spice.
- Vanilla bean - cut a vanilla bean in half.
You are going to be poaching the pears in red wine, orange juice, sugar, and spices; the red wine poaching liquid will reduce to a delicious red wine syrup 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 each peeled pear. Use a melon baller to take out the the core; start at the bottom. Leave the stems on the pears. Peel the skins off the pears with a peeler.
- Prepare the red wine syrup: 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 saucepan carefully, making sure they are covered with the liquid, and tilt the pears on their sides.
- 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 they are cooking, gently rotate them every few minutes with a slotted spoon to ensure they cook evenly in the poaching liquid.
- 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 refrigerate: Remove the saucepan from the stove top when they are cooked through yet firm. Carefully pick the pears up by their stems or with a slotted spoon.
- Once they're cool, place them in an airtight glass container and refrigerate with the red wine syrup, straining out any solids. Gently rotate the pears so that all sides absorb the red wine poaching liquid.
- Reduce the red wine syrup before serving. Set the pears aside, 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.
- 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 it cool before serving.
- Serve: Place half a pear in a bowl and spoon the red wine syrup over the pears. Add vegan vanilla ice cream or coconut whipped cream if desired.
- If you prefer, 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.
- A vegetable peeler for peeling the pears.
- Slotted spoon for turning the pears over occasionally.
- Small saucepan - approximately 3-quart.
Use ripe pears. Do not choose pears that are overripe, otherwise, they will turn mushy while cooking. If you choose pears that are underripe, you will need to cook them longer and they will not be as sweet.
As the pears poach, rotate them to make sure they cook evenly on all sides.
- Add lemon juice, slices of orange, or ginger.
- Instead of orange juice, try apple cider, cranberry juice, grape juice, or pomegranate juice.
- Try different sweeteners such as coconut sugar or brown sugar, or maple syrup.
- Instead of red wine, you can try late harvest Gewurztraminer, or add Grand Marnier, bourbon, whisky, or brandy.
- To make this recipe kid-friendly, 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 or apple cider. You can also try a non-alcoholic wine.
How to serve
- Serving 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 serve them 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.
Refrigerate the pears for up to 5 days. Do not freeze them.
Yes! I recommend making this dessert the day before you plan to serve them.
If you'd like to enjoy poached pears without wine or make them kid-friendly, replace the wine with apple juice, apple cider, cranberry juice, or grape juice, and add some lemon juice and spices. Or try non-alcoholic wine. Here a list of alcohol substitutions in cooking.
Pour it over vegan vanilla ice cream, or make a vinaigrette.
This recipe is best with ripe pears, however, if you have unripe pears, try poaching them for up to 1 to 1 ½ hours.
Reduce the syrup at low-medium heat for 15 to 30 minutes.
You can serve them for with pancakes or waffles, or with vegan yogurt and granola.
Test a pear with a paring knife; if it meets no resistance, it’s done.
Yes; it is hard to say how much because it depends on the cooking method, the alcohol and the amount, and the cooking time.
They taste a bit sweet as well as spicy with a bit of tartness from the delicious red wine syrup. The flavor will vary depending on the pears, the wine, and the flavorings you choose.
If you make these Poached Pears in Red Wine, let me know what you think by ★ star rating it and leaving a comment below. You can follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me! Just tag me @resplendentkitchen and hashtag #resplendentkitchenrecipes.
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
- ½ cup water
- 4 oz orange juice fresh squeezed, approximately 3 oranges
- 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
- ¼ vanilla bean
- Place the wine, water, orange juice, 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.
- 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 ½ 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.
Resplendent Kitchen offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site as a courtesy. Although resplendentkitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information from online calculators, these figures are estimates.