1 1/2 bottles of good red wine
3 cups of water
3 sticks of cinnamon
15 allspice berries
3 whole cloves
1 cup sugar
Peel from one orange
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1. Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil in a heavy pot over high heat, then simmer for 1 hour tightly covered. Cool completely before using as a poaching liquid. Stain liquid and reserve.
2. 6 firm Anjou pears, peeled, halved and cored. Keep stems on one half of cut pear.
3. In a heavy pot bring strained poaching liquid to a boil and add pears. Cook for 3 minutes at boiling temperature and then cut the heat to a low simmer. Using a plate that is smaller than the pot, place over pears to make sure all pears are in the poaching liquid. Continue to simmer covered on low heat for 15 minutes.
4. After pears are cool, serve the stemmed ones first. Remove a pear and using a knife starting 1 inch from the top, make 5 to 6 slices the length of the pear. This allows you to fan the pear out for a pretty presentation.
5. To Serve: Place pear in the center of a plate and fan gently. Mix 2 tablespoons of sour cream or vanilla low fat yogurt with 1 tablespoon of poaching liquid. Using a piping bag or small spoon arrange at least 4 small dollops of cream mixture around the pear. Pour maple syrup over the pear and serve.