It’s Official: Poached Pears in Red Wine Are the Best Winter Dessert

Photo: Candice Kumai / W+G Creative
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Well+Good is not the kind of wellness publication that will try to convince you that a piece of fruit qualifies as a satisfying dessert. However, we are absolutely on-board for the kind of fruit-based dessert that chef and Well+Good Council member Candice Kumai shares below: a delicious, wintery take on poached pears in red wine. You start with red wine—filled with antioxidants and good flavor—and infuse it with warming spices, then poach your pears in the spiced wine mixture. The end result is a gorgeous, show-stopping winter dessert that should have a place on any holiday table. 

I love Shiraz for poaching pears—it’s dry and not too sweet. The spices, citrus zest, and sugar really make this a fantastic dessert—it’s like the pears are taking a hot vino bath. When I can find Meyer lemons in the wintertime, I like to grate some zest over the ice cream or sorbet. Enjoy, friends!

Bosc pears in spiced vino

Serves 8


1 bottle Syrah wine (preferably Californian)
2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
1 whole star anise
5 whole cloves
One 4-inch long and 1/4-inch wide strip lemon zest
Four 4-inch long and 1/4-inch wide strips orange zest
4 Bosc pears, peeled, stem on
1 pint lemon sorbet or light vanilla ice cream (optional)

1. Combine the wine with 2 cups of water in a large saucepan to a simmer. Add the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, star anise, cloves, and citrus zests and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the pears, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook gently until the pears are stained a deep, dark purple color, about 30 minutes. Turn the pears once or twice while they poach. Turn off the heat, uncover the pan, and let the pears cool.

4. Once cool, remove the pears from the saucepan and set aside. Strain the liquid through a sieve and discard the spices. Pour the liquid back into the pan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the liquid is syrupy and reduced by half, 45 to 50 minutes. Taste and add more sugar if needed. Cool the syrup to room temperature.

5. Place the pears on your work surface. Halve them lengthwise and core them using a melon baller. Place a pear half in a bowl, top with a scoop of ice cream or sorbet (if desired), drizzle with the wine syrup, and serve.

Here's everything you need to know about the extensive health benefits of wine (in moderation):

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