Wash the cabbage well and remove any tough outer leaves. Cut the cabbage into quarters. Shred into one-eighth-inch wide strips by hand or with a food processor.
Place the cabbage in a large mixing bowl. Add the vinegar and sugar, and toss to coat evenly.
In a heavy casserole dish, heat the butter. Add the apples and the chopped onions. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until the apples are lightly browned.
Add the cabbage, the whole onion with cloves, the bay leaf, and boiling water to the casserole dish. Stir to mix well. Bring all to a boil, then cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook for one and one-half to 2 hours. Check occasionally to see if cabbage is too dry; if so, add a little hot water. When the cabbage is done there should be almost no liquid left in the casserole. Remove the whole onion and the bay leaf. Stir in wine, if desired. Serve warm.
Makes 6 servings