These glistening crimson pears make a pretty and festive dessert to serve at a special occasion meal. They look gourmet but are actually really simple to make. Whether you need a show-stopping dessert or just something easy you can make ahead of time, spiced red wine pears with cinnamon yogurt are the answer. The result is a light and delicious, semi-sweet dessert that is sure to impress your guests. They are naturally gluten free but can be refined sugar free or vegan by using plant-based yogurt in place of dairy.
This beautiful dessert is made by poaching pears in mulled wine - a mixture of red wine, whole spices, zest, and sugar. The wine permeates the fruit and gives a stunning red exterior. If you cook the pears in advance, there’s a tip to make them even extra red. For the extreme red method, soak the chilled pears in mulled wine overnight (or longer) in the fridge.
Make sure the pears you use are firm and not too ripe. This will keep them from becoming mushy once poached. Fully ripe pears can lose their shape and fall apart. For maximum effect, be sure to keep the stems on.
Don’t buy the most expensive wine for this recipe, however, choose something you would actually drink. A medium dry red wine such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon is a good choice. Note, spiced red wine pears are fine to serve to children because the wine is simmered for so long all the alcohol is burnt off.
Fragrant red wine poached pears team beautifully with any creamy cultured foods. We dripped two cups of homemade yogurt overnight for a thick, rich, and creamy labne. Any of the following cultured dairy recipes would be a perfect accompaniment.
For a vegan alternative, pop over to our 'yogurt basics' recipe page and choose your favourite plant-based yogurt recipe – we have many.
If you’re making this recipe ahead of time you can have everything ready to go. All the components can be stored in glass containers for up to 5 days.
6 pears (firm, just ripe)
750 ml bottle red wine (Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 orange peel and juice
1 lemon peel and juice
¾ cup brown sugar OR honey
2 tablespoons honey
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole star anise
6 whole cloves
1 vanilla pod, (1 teaspoon vanilla paste)
Water (1-2 cups) depending on pot size.
1 cup dripped yogurt (labne) or cultured food of your choice
1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar OR honey
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla paste or 1 teaspoon vanilla
Cinnamon yogurt (or cultured food of your choice)
1. If you want to serve your pears with labne start by dripping homemade yogurt. You can use a nut milk bag or muslin cloth over a colander or wire strainer. Whey will begin to drip through immediately. Leave to drain for 2 hours to overnight, depending on the consistency you desire.
2. Combine 1 cup of labne or cultured food of your choice in a medium bowl.
3. Add the cinnamon, vanilla and sweetener of your choice and mix well to combine.
4. Store in a sealed glass container in the fridge until serving.
Red wine spiced pears
5. In a medium to large sized pot, combine all mulled wine ingredients.
6. Peel the pears as nicely as you can with a vegetable peeler, leaving the stems intact.
7. If the pears don’t stand up without falling over. Slice 1cm off the bottom so they can stand upright when plated.
8. Put pears in the pot. Add 1 -2 cups of water to fully immerse. The pears will float so a little bit of fruit will be popping out of the liquid. We used an upside-down pot lid, partially covered to help keep them submerged. If you can’t keep them submerged don’t worry.
9. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently for 1 - 1½ hours or until pears are tender.
10. Periodically turn the pears while they’re poaching to ensure even cooking and consistent colour.
11. With a slotted spoon carefully remove pears and set aside on a plate.
12. Strain the wine. Discard the spices or keep them for plating up decoration.
13. From here, you have two options. If you are happy with the colour of your pears proceed with the red wine reduction below. If you would like extreme ruby red pears follow these additional steps. Pour the strained and cooled mulled wine into a large glass container. Lay the cooled pears into the wine and refrigerate overnight or longer. Carefully remove the pears from the liquid and set on a plate at room temperature or in the fridge until ready to serve.
Red wine reduction
14. Return the mulled wine to a pot, and simmer on a low heat until it has reduced to approx. 1-2 cups. The more you reduce it the thicker it will be. Be careful not to burn it. Note: while the sauce is hot it will appear thin. As it cools it will become thick and syrupy like toffee. Store the mulled wine syrup at room temperature in an air-tight container.
15. Serve chilled. Add two tablespoons (or more) of cinnamon yogurt onto a plate. Place the pear on or beside the yogurt then drizzle with the red wine reduction.