Wine Poached Pears, with Cardamon Whipped Cream


It's pear and apple season right now. Marc loves apples, I don't care for them that much. But give me a good pear anytime. I like them raw, in salads (especially with endives! ), in tarts or poached. Expect a number of pear recipes coming this fall...

Here is one of my favorite: pears poached in a red wine spiced with black pepper, cloves, orange zest, star anise, a vanilla bean and a cinnamon stick. It's often served with some ice cream, but i'll go here with an indulgent cardamon whipped cream. There is no preparation, save for peeling the pears and whipping the cream.  I was reminded of the goodness of mixing wine and fruits when my dad recently mixed some delicious Vine Peaches from his garden with a red Bourdeaux. 

I used "Conference" pears, but they are not available in the US, so the best substitution would be the Bosc pear.


Red Wine Poached Pears, and Cardamon Whipped cream  (vegetarian)

Serves 4

Prep time : 5 min

Cooking time : 15 to 20 minutes


  • 4 bosc pears
  • I bottle of any red wine 
  • 3 cloves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 2 star anise
  • orange peel
  • 1 cinnamon stick ( or 1 tsp of ground)
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in two (or 1tsp of extract)
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1 cup of whipping cream
  • a pinch of ground cardamon
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar


  1. Peel the pear keeping them whole
  2. Slice the bottom so that they can stand up on a plate
  3. Boil the wine in a saucepan with the cloves, peppercorns, star anise, orange peel, cinnamon, vanilla and honey.
  4. Reduce to a simmer, add the pears and poach for 15 to 20 minutes: if they aren't covered by the wine in your pot, halfway through turn them round delicately
  5. Whip the cream, adding the powdered sugar as you go,  and the ground cardamon ( cardamon has a strong flavor, so be careful to taste as you add it) 
  6. Strain the pears, one by one, and serve them warm on a plate with the whipped cream
  7. (you can also make this dessert ahead of time, and keep the pear in the fridge for a day)

Marc's wine pairing : 1994 Warre's LBV Port 


For Marie’s wine poached pears with cardamom whipped cream, I went for hedonistic pleasure in the pairing.  Nothing better than a good fortified wine: a Banyuls from Domaine La Tour Vieille, à Maury from Mas Amiel or a good Rasteau all compliment this dish well. A California Port from the Sierra Foothills would be special for your guests.

But, when I was rooting around in what’s left of my wine collection (long story for later), I came across an old Warre’s 1994 LBV Port! I spent 3 years in Lisbon in the 90’s and put together a pretty good selection of Ports. I don’t drink them often but, with the right dish they are spectacular.



A little bit about Port

I’ll leave explaining all the different kinds of Port to the experts! I’ll be really brief and tell you the characteristics of easily found ports.  A Ruby port is young and grapy, good for aperitifs and grandma. Tawny is aged port with an amber color, with nutty, dried fruit flavors; super with nuts and cheeses liked aged Gruyères and Italian Grana. Vintage Ports are kings, treated like wine and bottle aged, they are deep and complex, ranging sweet to spice box to smoky. Late Bottled Vintage or LBV is a great alternative to a pricy Vintage.  They are made to be drank youngish. They spend 4 to 6 years in casks and then are bottled. But, if you get an unfiltered LBV they can age very well. So, if you see older ones from Warre’s, Fonseca, Taylor’s, Graham’s… snap ‘em up! They can be really good buys.

A 1994 Warre’s LBV was quite a nice find – you still might find one in a shop. We decanted this bottle for a few hours. Firstly to separate the sediment that forms with unfiltered wines and secondly to let it breath.  LBV and Vintage really benefit from a few hours of decanting.

Sweet and alcohol driven in its youth, now its strength has softened and some of the sweetness has given way to a beautiful range flavors like cedar, cloves, black coffee and a taste kind of like chocolate covered dried fruit. It went so well with Marie’s wine poached pears, complimenting the spices and the cream. The bit of acidity left in the pears made the pairing really come together.

Then we did what the English do and have some cheese with Port AFTER dessert. Blue cheeses are the best!

Marc’s pairing hint – Contrast is good!! In pairing look for a wide range of flavors, textures and aromas that go together like the color palate for a painter. A splash of acidity, spice or even saltiness in a dish can liven up sweet wines. A bit of dried herbs (garrigue as it is known in France) can add depth to Southern wines… We  all have become accustomed to oakiness, vanilla, cherries and high alcohol as criteria for “good” wines.  We tend to pair wines with foods we think have similar profiles. It can work, but soon becomes cloying. Seek out wines that add something more, or bring out secondary layers in your food. Sure, great Bordeaux goes well with a nice steak, but try a Bandol from near Marseille, or a Corsican wine from Ajaccio and you’ll take things to another level with flavors of thyme,  juniper berry or sea salt. Plus you’ll feel the sun in every mouthful. Be creative and experiment.