When I mentioned to Maurizio di Dio that I like to poach pears in Sagrantino, he winced and said, no, solo da bere - only to drink. I think I need to make him these poached pears in Sagrantino and turn him into a believer. If Sagrantino is not available, use a Barbera wine.
4 slightly ripe Anjou, Williams, or Bartlett pears, peeled and with stem top
4 cups Sagrantino wine
3/4 cup sugar
One 3-inch piece of cinnamon stick
Zest of 1 large lemon
Place the pears in a saucepan just large enough to accommodate them upright. Mix the wine and sugar together and add it with the rest of the ingredients. Cover the pan and simmer the pears until a small knife is inserted easily into the pears. Remove them with a slotted spoon to a dish and let them cool.
While the pears cool, boil the wine until it is reduced by half. Set aside.
Cut the pears in half lengthwise. Use a small spoon to remove the inner core and seeds. Place 2 halves on each of 4 individual serving dishes, or leave the pears whole.
Pour a little of the wine sauce over the top of each dish and serve.
Variation: For an elegant presentation, wet the rims of sorbet or ice cream bowls and dip the rims in coarse white sugar. Add a whole pear and some of the wine sauce to each bowl.
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