A single pear, poached in fortified wine and standing upright on a dessert plate, is a beautiful thing—a simple and light yet elegant dessert. The garnishing options are endless here: Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, caramel sauce, chocolate desserts, or a little crème anglaise.

This was featured as part of our 2007 Fruits of Fall story.

  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 20 minutes 
  • Active: 10 minutes

Ingredients (8)

  • 4 cups port wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped, seeds and pod reserved
  • 1 (2-inch) stick cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 firm Bosc or Anjou pears (about 1 pound)


  1. Combine all ingredients except pears in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Meanwhile, peel pears, leaving the stems intact. Slice off the bottom 1/8 inch of each pear to create a flat, stable base.
  2. Reduce heat to keep poaching liquid at a bare simmer and add pears, laying them on their sides so that they are almost completely submerged. Cook, turning pears occasionally so that they become saturated on all sides, until they are just tender when pierced with a fork, about 7 minutes.
  3. Allow pears to cool completely in the poaching liquid. Serve or transfer pears and liquid to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Beverage pairing: Patrick Bottex Vin du Bugey-Cerdon La Cueille, France. Just because the pears are poached in port doesn’t mean you have to serve it with them. A better choice might be one of the sweet, sparkling reds from the French appellation called Bugey-Cerdon. Its scrumptious red-berry flavors with pick up the port, while its lightness and effervescence will be the right weight for the pear.