Bring 1/2 cup sugar and wine to a boil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.
Peel and core pears; cut in half. Add to wine mixture. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until pears are crisp-tender. Transfer pears and poaching liquid to a bowl; cool completely. Cut each pear half into 6 wedges; return to liquid. Cover and chill.
Whisk together eggs, milk, and next 4 ingredients. Dip each bread slice into the spiced egg mixture.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; add half of the bread slices, and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove from skillet, and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon butter and bread slices.
Drain pears. Serve French toast slices with pears and Walnut Ice Cream. Drizzle with Caramel Sauce; arrange mint and pansies on each plate, if desired.