Red Wine Poached Pears

Red wine poached pears are a stunning—and stunningly simple—dessert made from booze and fruit and sugar and not a lot else.

Two blue plates with red wine poached pears and a drizzle of sauce over them.

Red wine poached pears is a classic example of how the simplest of ingredients can constitute a seemingly sophisticated dessert with minimal effort. Here pears are gently coaxed to tenderness by gently simmering them in red wine, blackberries, and vanilla. It’s unlikely anyone will believe you achieved something so stunning with just five ingredients. And that’s okay—it can be our little secret. Originally published April 13, 2017.Angie Zoobkoff

Red Wine Poached Pears

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Serves 6
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In a large saucepan, combine the vanilla bean and seeds with the wine, sugar, and blackberries or mulberries.

Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each pear so that they’ll sit upright on the plate after being poached. Carefully nestle the pears in the pan on their sides, cover with the lid, and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Simmer the pears, turning every now and then to ensure all sides get submerged in wine for part of the cooking, until the pears are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. The pears are done when you insert the tip of a knife into the pear and it feels tender but not to the point of collapse.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the pears from the pan with a slotted spoon and stand each pear on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Return the pan to medium heat and simmer, uncovered, until syrupy and reduced by half. The timing will vary depending on the size of your pan but could take as long as 20 to 30 minutes.

Strain the sauce, pressing to release all the juice from the berries. (If you prefer a more rustic presentation, you can leave some of the berries whole and strain the rest of the sauce.) Spoon the sauce over the pears and serve immediately with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if using.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This is an amazing recipe that's easy and absolutely delicious. It's great because it can be made ahead of time for guests and is suitable for those who eat gluten-free. I used red d'Anjou pears weighing approximately 6 ounces each and they were done perfectly after simmering them for 30 minutes. Reducing the sauce to a syrup took about 18 minutes. I used a sweet Concord wine from a local winery and the addition of the blackberries make the sauce so rich and flavorful that it almost tastes like a liqueur.

This is a very straightforward, simple, yet ultimately elegant recipe. In a little over a half an hour, these pears will not only elevate your meal but your standing in the community! I used a five dollar Merlot from Barney Kroger's place and beautiful red pears. I was really quite surprised that there was so much flavor considering a complete lack of spices. A dollop of hand-whipped heavy cream with a drizzle of the sauce makes this already FINE dessert a real stunner. My only thought on checking for doneness is that using the tip of a knife to check for softness of the pears is fine for an experienced hand, but for a regular Joe such as myself, I recommend using a fork to check the pears. We all understand the feeling of a fork sliding into EVERYTHING we eat. If the fork doesn't go in easily, it just ain't done.


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