Sagu – Tapioca Pearls in Red Wine

Sagu - Tapioca Pearls in Red Wine

Having grown up in Brazil, eating Sagu when I was young was definitely one of the few ways to taste some wine and feel a bit dipsy just by having a dessert.

Sagu is a dessert made of tapioca pearls which is a bit different from sago: the tapioca starch is extracted from cassava root while the sago starch is extracted from the pith of sago palm stems.

Tapioca Pearls

Commercially both types of starch are processed into several forms and the pearls are very popular among the Asians, served usually in teas or smoothies.

Tapioca Pearls

The Brazilian dessert is very unique: the pearls absorb the wine and become very chewy. It is served chilled but the combination of the wine and the cloves kind of warm you up. Once you give it a try, you can pretty much say that you have eaten some wine, if it makes any sense.


SAGU by Mais Voce


1 cup tapioca pearls
3 cups red wine
1 cup sugar
10 cloves


In a large saucepan, boil 3 liters of water.
Add the tapioca pearls and stir gently until it boils again.

Remove from heat and cool inside the lidded pot, stirring it occasionally for about 2 to 3 hours.

Using a colander, drain all water and wash the pearls quickly to remove the sticky gum.

Transfer the pearls back to saucepan, add sugar, wine and cloves. Bring it back to heat until it boils.

When boiling, remove from heat and place in a glass bowl. Leave it in the fridge and serve the next day.

17 people like this post.


  1. darlene

    Thanks for this recipe. I have always wanted to find a different use for tapioca. Here in Hawaii it is used in a custard or a thickener for pie fillings. I have many new ideas to do with tapioca pearls.

    • Priscila

      Hi Darlene, I’m glad you liked the recipe! Cassava roots are originally from South America so we have lots of other dishes that we make with tapioca. Looking forward to hear what ideas you come up with.


    • Priscila

      Hi Mike
      It is indeed a very refreshing dessert and I hope you manage to impress your neighbours with it 🙂 You can also enhance the spices flavour by adding a cinnamon stick with the cloves. Sagu also goes well with some vanilla whipped cream on the side.

      Enjoy it!

  2. Chris

    Wow, How cool..I’ve never heard of this. I love tapioca, but this is really unusual- I will look forward t making it 🙂 thank you for sharing the recipe.

  3. Ameixinha

    Acho que posso falar em português, né? 🙂
    Obrigada pela visita ao meu blog! Nunca provei essas bolinhas de sagu. Já me deparei com a embalagem delas no supermercado e uma amiga minha já fez e diz que é muito bom. Terei que experimentar um dia destes 🙂

    • Priscila

      Oi Ameixinha, obrigada pela visita por aqui 🙂 Sagu é muito bom e pode ser feito com suco de uva no lugar do vinho se preferir. Ja comi uma receita malasiana que leva leite de coco com rapadura, bem interessante também.


    I made a version of your recipe but it came out as a jell with tapioca in it rather than separate little pearls. I didn’t understand the first instruction – “boil 3/4 of water” 3/4 cup? 3/4 liter? 3/4 contents of the pot? I used part agave and part cane sugar, and it was delicious anyway, but would appreciate your answer to the question. Thanks!

    • Priscila

      Hi there, I’m glad that you’ve tried it!
      I’ve never tried agave…does it taste like tequila?
      Thanks for pointing that out, there was a typo in the recipe and it should be 3 liters of water instead.
      Not sure about the texture that you got. Maybe leave it soaking for 2 hours instead of 3 and see how you go.


  5. Mari

    My grandmother, who lived in Brazil for years, used to make this when I was young. I never learned how to make it, but suspected that tapioca, may have been an ingredient. I went to Brazil several years ago, and asked relatives about sagu.. most didn’t know what I was talking about. I asked them to take me to a store, and there I found SAGU… I had to ask my hosts to translate the recipe on the package. They actually made it for me. Didn’t taste the same as I remembered my grandma’s. Not sure if she used grape juice or wine. I thought juice. I now have some more sagu, brought to me by a Brazilian student who will be studying here for a year.. I have to try both ways. Comfort food. G/ma also made an orange pudding, and I had asked my mother about that recipe, but she had no idea what I was talking about. I sort recreated it.. but that was some 20 yrs ago. Used orange juice to make the pudding, kinda like the lemon pudding I used to make for Lemon Meringue Pie… it turned out well, but I would love to have a “real recipe” if one exists. She also made “grist mill” pudding… made from cream of wheat, eggs, sugar, grated almonds and served w/raspberry syrup.

  6. Atarangi

    I have recently returned from Porto Alrgre in Brazil. We went to this restaurant In gramado and they served this delicious desert that looked like frogs eyes floating in red stuff. It was so yummy. I asked what it was and with the language barrier I got the name wrong. I typed sago and got the picture of Sagu. Now I have the recipe so thanks a million. They served it with a fine custard. It was so yum.

    • Priscila

      Hi Atarangi, hope you had a great time in Brazil. Yes, sagu is so yummy but now that you mentioned the frog, I don’t think I will ever look at it with the same eyes again (LOL)!

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