We used a vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract in the poaching liquid. That's because extracts evaporate when heated, which means the pears won't pick up the vanilla flavor. The vanilla bean can be omitted.
Peel and core pears. Cut each pear in half lengthwise; set aside.
Scrape seeds from vanilla bean, and place seeds and bean in a large nonaluminum skillet. Add sugar, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, and wine to skillet, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Arrange pears, cut sides down, in a single layer in skillet; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Turn pears over; cover and simmer an additional 10 minutes or until pears are tender. Remove pears with a slotted spoon. Place in a large shallow dish, and set aside.
Bring wine mixture to a boil; cook 20 minutes or until reduced to 3/4 cup. Strain wine mixture through a sieve into the dish of pears; discard spices. Cover and chill 8 hours, turning pears occasionally. Remove pears with a slotted spoon, reserving wine mixture.
Arrange 2 pears halves in each of 4 dessert compotes. Drizzle 3 tablespoons wine mixture over each serving, and top pears with 1 tablespoon crumbled cheese.