Spiced red wine poached pears

A favourite around the world for centuries, eighth-century Greek poet Homer lauded the humble pear as 'a gift of the gods'! However it wasn't until the 18th century that the French and Belgians developed the traditional European pear, with its juicy, slightly grainy flesh, and signature shape.

An excellent source of dietary fibre and containing some vitamin C, today there are more than 5,000 pear varieties grown around the world, with just a small percentage commercially produced. 

If you're celebrating Christmas in July − or even if you're not − this beautifully spiced pear recipe makes the perfect winter dessert.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 5 minutes | Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes | Difficulty: Easy


  • 500ml (2 cups) dry red wine
  • 70g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 2 x 7cm cinnamon sticks
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 4 just-ripe packham's triumph pears, peeled
  • 1 x 250g carton mascarpone
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar mixture
  • 2 teaspoons rosewater


Step 1

  • Combine the wine, sugar, star anise, cinnamon and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan over medium heat
  • Cook, stirring, for two minutes or until sugar dissolves
  • Add the pears and bring to the boil
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer, turning occasionally, for one hour or until pears are tender
  • Use a slotted spoon to transfer pears to a heatproof bowl.

Step 2

  • Increase heat to high and bring the syrup to the boil
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until syrup thickens slightly
  • Pour over the pears and set aside for 10 minutes to cool
  • Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for four hours to chill.

Step 3

  • Place the mascarpone, icing sugar and rosewater in a medium bowl and stir to combine.

Step 4

  • Transfer the pears to a serving dish and drizzle with syrup
  • Serve with rosewater mascarpone.

Sofia's suggestion

  • If you're particularly adventurous, you could serve spiced red wine poached pears with roast pork in place of the more traditional (safe!) apple sauce.

Recipe and image source

Recipe −  Sarah Hobbs, Australian Good Taste August 2005
Photography − William Meppem