Pears poached in red wine

Elegant poached pears are surprisingly simple to make. My favorite use for the leftover poaching liquid: process it in a blender with an extra poached pear, then freeze into sorbet using an ice cream maker. Effortless and divine.


Directions   Print recipe     Email to a friend
Serves 4
4–6 pears, peeled*
1 750m bottle   red wine
4 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole clove
1 star anise
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice**
1 strip orange zest***



  1. Peel 4–6 pears, leaving the stem intact.
  2. Using a melon baller, scoop out the core of the pear from the bottom. Take off a small slice across the bottom so the pear will stand up when served.
  3. Combine red wine, water, sugar, vanilla seeds and bean, cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise, lemon juice and orange zest in a spacious, non-reactive saucepan.
  4. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium high heat until the sugar dissolves. Adjust the heat to prevent boiling over.
  5. Place the pears on their sides in the poaching liquid. To keep them submerged, cut a circle of parchment paper just a little smaller than the diameter of the pan and place the circle on top of the pears.
  6. Bring the pears to a lively simmer; reduce the heat to a simmer. Poach the pears until tender, about 25 minutes. A cake tester or toothpick should glide through the pear. Do not overcook them or they can become mushy.
  7. Once poached, turn the pears so that they absorb the liquid evenly. Let them cool in the liquid until room temperature.
  8. Place the pears in a spacious bowl and cover with the liquid. Refrigerate overnight. Poached pears will keep 1–2 days in the refrigerator.
  9. When ready to assemble, remove the pears from the bowl and strain the poaching liquid into a bowl.
  10. To make a reduction sauce: Pour one-half cup of the poaching liquid foreach pear into a saucepan over medium-high heat. (This would be 2 cups for 4 pears and 3 cups for 6 pears.) Adjust the heat as required. Cool to room temperature. Bring to a boil and continue cooking until reduced by half.
  11. To serve, spoon the sauce into a pretty bowl. Set the pear atop and drizzle more sauce down the sides. Add freshly whipped cream on the side, decorate with a flower or mint sprig and serve.


Preparation Time: 
approximately 40 minutes plus 24-48 masceration in the refrigerator.
Tips and Techniques 
  • How To Split and Scrape a Vanilla Bean.