4 cups red wine 1 ½ cups sugar 2 cups water 1 cup orange juice orange peels 2 cinnamon sticks fresh thyme (handful) 6 firm ripe pears (peeled, cored, stems left intact)
Combine everything save for the pears in a large, heavy saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to simmer. Add pears, and bring everything back up to a simmer.
Reduce heat too medium-low and simmer slowly until pears are tender when pierced with knife, about 25 minutes. (But start checking at 20 minutes! Depending on the ripeness of your pears, this could take slightly less or more time.)
Transfer pears to a plate or platter. Boil liquid in saucepan until reduced to 3 cups, about 20 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead – just cover and chill pears in the poaching liquid. Before serving, rewarm over medium-low heat until pears are heated through, or simply serve them at room temperature.)
If you like, reserve one cup of the poaching liquid and reduce it down into a syrup to use for drizzling when you serve. Or, serve with vanilla ice cream.