In a medium saucepan, combine the water, sugar, orange wedges, lemon peel and juice, cinnamon, cardamom pods, bay leaves and whole cloves. Bring to boiling; reduce heat, Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Pour in the wine and heat until steaming but not simmering.
To serve, strain mixture through a very fine wire-mesh strainer; discard solids. Serve hot wine in small heatproof mugs or glasses. Add about 1 tablespoon of brandy or desired liquor to each, if you like. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Prepare and serve as above, except substitute 3-1/4 cups apple cider or apple juice for the wine and omit liquor options.