In 12 inch skillet heat all ingredients except apples to boiling. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors. Red food coloring is optional, but makes these very pretty.
Meanwhile, core apples (but leave peel on) and slice into 1/4 inch thick rings. Cook half of rings at a time in liquid. Simmer until tender but FIRM, about 3-5 minutes. Dip out first half of apples rings and cook second half in same liquid.
Discard lemon slices. Place all apple rings in a serving bowl and pour liquid over all. Cover and refrigerate for up to one week. Serve cold as a side dish or appetizer. Great with poultry or pork. Can also be used as a topping for ice cream.
TO USE AS A GIFT: Arrange apple slices in a half-pint jar. Pour liquid over apples and place a lid on jar. Give with a card indicating that apples must be refrigerated and should be used within one week.