Sign up for our Newsletter

(Photo credit: Doug Young)

Dessert takes on a more romantic meaning on Valentine’s Day. Buying a heart-shaped box of chocolates is a no-brainer, but it doesn’t exactly scream effort. Baking for your fond affection shows not just the gift of effort, but time—always at a premium.

While you may opt for one of the abundance of prix fixe offerings on the South Fork for dinner, opting for dessert at home shows your Valentine you cared to think ahead. This simple yet elegant recipe for pears poached in red wine and ginger created by food stylist Cameron Prather doesn’t require a ton of effort, and the set-it-and-forget-it time required in the ‘fridge is exactly what you need to not fuss over the final course.

And it’s gorgeous. Not only is the deep, red color of the pears visually stunning, but the poaching process also infuses warm, spiced aromas and flavors, ultimately enhanced with the zippy zing of ginger.

When choosing the wine for the poaching, a full-bodied, deeply colored red like cabernet sauvignon, merlot or malbec are a good choice (locally, a good multi-grape blend option is Paumanok Festival Red or Bridge Lane Red Blend, because you should never cook with wine you wouldn’t drink). Bosc Pears are readily available this time of year at most markets and have a sturdy shape, which is best for poaching. When peeling the pears, be sure to leave the stem on, going slow and steady with your paring knife.

Cutting the bottoms of the pears flat will help them stand more easily in the final step and for dramatic plating. Be sure to bring the pears to room temperature before serving then drizzle the reduced syrup over them. Certainly, vanilla ice cream or crème fraiche can accompany these beauties, or if you’re feeling extra ambitious, try scattering some candied kumquats around the dish in the syrup. (Add them in while reducing the poaching liquid; 10 minutes should do it; then remove with a straining ladle.) Simplicity is also an eye-catching option, serving them as-is on a dark, ceramic platter.

And yes, this recipe tastes as romantic as it sounds!

Cameron Prather’s Poached Pears in Red Wine and Ginger

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 1 day
Serves 4 people


  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 orange juiced, about a 1/2 cup
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger root peeled and sliced thinly
  • 4 firm, ripe pears


  • In a large saucepan, combine the wine, sugar, orange juice, cinnamon stick, cloves and ginger. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, 5 minutes.
  • While the liquid simmers, peel the pears, leaving the stem intact and careful not to blemish the flesh.
  • Place the pears in the poaching liquid for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes to ensure even color, until pears are cooked but still firm.
  • Remove saucepan from flame, uncover and cool with pears set upright in pan. Once cool, cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. Be sure to reserve the pan syrup for drizzling. Enjoy!