[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

When the storage apples of winter lose their autumn crispness, it's best to turn to pears. Pears keep their flavor better through the cold of January, and unlike apples, which are famously finnicky to cook, pears welcome heat with ease.

One of the easiest ways to cook a pear is to poach it in syrup or wine. Almost as easy: to turn that poached pear into sorbet. Doing so makes for a no-fuss, zero-fat dessert that's just as creamy as ice cream.

Plenty of wines are good for poaching pears, but Riesling is especially nice. Look for one with moderate sweetness but good acidity that has an alcohol content around 12%.

Once we're talking Riesling, we might as well talk ginger, too. It goes fabulously with pears, but its clean, crisp heat also jives with Riesling's mineral backbone. There's a lot of ginger in this sorbet, enough to ensure a real spicy kick. Tone it down if you're feeling timid but don't be afraid to go full-throttle.

About the author: Max Falkowitz is the New York editor and ice cream maker in residence at Serious Eats. You can follow him on Twitter at @maxfalkowitz.


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