1) In a large saucepan, whisk together merlot (reserving 450 ml), star anise, cinnamon stick, and sugar. Bring to a boil.
2) Add pears and remaining 450 ml of merlot. Allow pears to cook in the wine and flavorings, simmering at a low boil.
3) In a small bowl, whisk together mascarpone, sugar, and cream. Add fresh mint, if desired.
4) Place a dollop of mascarpone cheese onto each plate. Top with 1 or 2 pears and serve.