Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C. Lightly butter a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold the pears when they are halved.
Squeeze the lemon and pour the juice into a saucepan, or a large frying pan with a lid, wide enough to hold the pear halves in a single layer. Add the red wine, ½ cup caster sugar and the cinnamon. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Peel, halve and core the pears. Lower into the simmering syrup and cook gently for 10 minutes, until just softened, basting with the syrup from time to time.
Meanwhile, make the meringue. Put the egg whites into a clean bowl and whisk until stiff but not dry (this is quickest and easiest with an electric beater). Sprinkle in the remaining caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add the vanilla essence and beat until the meringue is stiff and shiny.
Lift out the pear halves with a slotted spoon, draining the juice, and place in the baking dish, hollow side up. Spoon the meringue over each half, sprinkle some flaked almonds over the meringue, and sift the icing sugar over the top. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 5 minutes or until the meringue is lightly browned.
Meanwhile, boil the wine sauce until reduced to a heavy syrup. Discard the cinnamon stick, if used, and pour the syrup into a jug.
Lift the dish of pears from the oven very carefully, to make sure the meringue does not slip off, and serve with the wine sauce.
Sweet dessert apples or firm ripe peaches or nectarines, peeled and cut in half, or thick rings of peeled fresh pineapple, can be used in place of the pears. If you prefer a non-alcoholic sauce, water or an unsweetened fruit juice may be substituted for the red wine.