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