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Red Wine Poached Rhubarb Compote

May 20, 2008

Last weekend, I pounced on the first of the spring rhubarb at the market: I’ve been waiting for it! My rhubarb radar has been running on high alert lately, and finally, jackpot! I walked away cradling my big fat bundle of rosy red stalks, a bounce in my step and my mind whirling. What to make with them? My “to cook” list of recipes has a rhubarb category, including recipes like strawberry rhubarb pie (my favorite kind of pie), strawberry rhubarb ice cream, big crumb coffee cake with rhubarb, strawberry rhubarb tartlets, strawberry rhubarb crisp, rhubarb fool, strawberry rhubarb sorbet, rhubarb and raspberry jam roly poly, and on and on. All very spring-y ideas, perfect for a balmy day when the temperature is in the 60’s, the sun is shining, the tulips are blooming, the scent of lilacs is wafting through the air, and the spring peepers are singing.

Well. Ithaca foiled me again. All these grand plans I had for light, springy rhubarb desserts? Undermined completely by the 43 degree, blustery, pouring, gray start to the week. It sleeted yesterday, for crying out loud! Snuggling into a blanket with my fleece jacket on and sipping a cup of hot chocolate, I decided to use half my rhubarb for something a little more…cozy. This compote seemed to fit the bill: chunks of rhubarb are poached in red wine with some sugar, a little honey, a cinnamon stick and some cloves. It perfumes the whole house with the warm, spicy smell, and after about half an hour simmering and bubbling away on the stove, you’re left with a chunky, tart jewel-toned rhubarb sauce, perfect for this middling weather. Oh, it’s not that you couldn’t eat this in the summer: it would make a great topping for ice cream or creamy Greek yogurt. But, it was also a perfect warm topping for some molten chocolate babycakes that we had leftover from the weekend, ready to bake.

This recipe is from David Lebovitz’s terrific ice cream cookbook The Perfect Scoop, where it’s listed as a footnote to the strawberry rhubarb sorbet. Maybe if the weather turns back to what I expect for “normal” late May weather, I’ll make the sorbet with the remaining half of the rhubarb and serve this compote as a sauce over it. What are you planning on doing with your rhubarb this spring?


Red Wine Poached Rhubarb Compote

From The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 cups red wine
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon honey
1 cinnamon stick
pinch ground cloves

Combine the rhubarb, wine, sugar, honey, cinnamon stick, and cloves in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer until reduced into a thick sauce (the original recipe says to reduce it by a third, but I reduced it a bit more as I wanted it a bit thicker.)

13 Comments leave one →
  1. May 20, 2008 8:15 am

    I’ve been seeing so many wonderful ideas for rhubarb lately, but no rhubarb in sight! Sigh, I’ll have to keep this one in mind for when I do see rhubarb somewhere, that compote looks delicious!

  2. May 20, 2008 8:18 am

    Oh yum! I so wish i could find rhubarb here. No such luck though.

  3. May 20, 2008 10:06 am

    I love rhubarb!!!! Caught your link from The Kitchen Sink; thank you so much for writing something so completely divine!!!

  4. May 20, 2008 12:10 pm

    perfect jam!

  5. May 20, 2008 1:19 pm

    I could see so many ways of eating this. Wonderful.

  6. May 20, 2008 3:52 pm

    Gorgeous photos!!

  7. vladka permalink
    May 21, 2008 2:57 pm

    Intriguing:) I have rhubarb, yet no great rhubarb ideas, I’m not much of a rhubarb fan but this is definitely worth a try. Thanks to you, I’m discovering completely new dimensions. I haven’t got round the quinoa from my “to cook” list yet, and lo, there’s a new recipe in sight already:)

  8. May 24, 2008 6:36 am

    I love rhubarb and just made a rhubarb buttermilk cake last week. We have a family reunion of sorts coming up and my daughter D from Alaska has it growing like crazy in her back yard. She is flying with as much rhubarb as she can carry so we can go on a rhubarb frenzy, jam included. Great photos!

  9. May 24, 2008 11:51 am

    What a delicious way to use rhubarb. Oh, what am I talking about… I’ve never actually made anything with it (yet.) I keep seeing all of these great recipes so I better pick something and give it a shot!

  10. May 25, 2008 5:33 am

    i can have a heart attack looking at that alone. i love rhubarb. and the colour of this is just lovely.

  11. Shannon permalink
    June 1, 2008 8:49 pm

    Came across your recipe with an open bottle of wine on the counter and a bag full of rhubarb at mom’s! Luckily she let me take some:) Made it last week and really enjoyed as a topping for my yogurt! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. Dana permalink
    June 6, 2008 8:38 am

    That “roly poly” from Bon Appetit looked awesome to me too. And of course this looks delicious!

  13. Michael permalink
    July 3, 2015 9:35 pm


    I own David’s book “The Perfect Scoop” Today I made the Strawberry/Rhubarb sorbet from it. It is truly a magnificent sorbet. As I write, I am finishing the Red Wine-Poached Rhubarb Compote. Am now reducing the volume. The aroma in the house is exquisite; the taste of the juice superb!! When cool and served tomorrow, this flavor combination will light up the 4th of July sky!! Just one correction in the recipe shown above. Use 1 Tablespoon of honey (that is what the recipe in the book states). Make this flavor combination and be amazed! Hint: DO let the sorbet “ripen” in the freezer for about 6 hours before serving. Its flavor and consistency will be improved.

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