Red Wine Chocolate Cupcakes

This recipe is the result of a late afternoon cupcake craving combined with my need to efficiently make use of some two day old Valoplicella, an Italian wine I sometimes buy just to mix things up a little. It’s not my favorite Italian wine, but it has a unique flavor that brings back good sense memories and makes me happy.

red wine cupcake

This recipe is kind of fun. It’s adapted from an old Food & Wine recipe by Kristen Donnelly and can be made with any kind of wine. The Valpolicella gave the cupcakes kind of a chocolate-sour cherry flavor which was good, and the aftertaste lingered which was positive or negative depending on how you look at things. You could call it a “long finish”, but I’m not sure that’s what one wants in a cupcake so a fruity merlot might be more appropriate for the cake. It’s fun to experiment, though.

For the icing, I was trying to come up with something that would match chocolate cherry or complement the flavor of Valpolicella somehow. I ended up using the recipe on the back of the Ghirardelli cocoa can because really, what goes better with wine than chocolate? Okay, steak. I could have made steak frosting but didn’t think of that in time.

Red Wine Chocolate Cupcakes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Chocolate cupcakes made with red wine
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (4.5 oz)
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 3/8 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla or a little more wine if you really like the one you’re using.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 cupcake tins with paper liners.
  2. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together and set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, 4 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Working in two batches, alternately fold in the dry ingredients and the wine, until just incorporated. Divide the batter between the cupcake cups and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely. The wine flavor mellows a bit upon standing, so I recommend eating these a few hours after you make them.
  4. Prepare frosting. Mix together the butter, cocoa powder, and sugar. Stir in the milk. Beat until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Frost the cupcakes.

Related posts:


  1. CindyD says

    Just for fun I googled steak frosting – and what came up was a link to today’s Cookie Madness!

  2. says

    I forgot to mention this in the post so I’ll mention it here since I’m enjoying the comments. These cupcakes smelled very interesting while baking. The wine gave off a really yeast smell. I thought it smelled like a doughnut shop. Fuzz just thought it smelled like wine. Todd came home and though it smelled like paint.

  3. says

    Jones Soda Co. (you know, all those funky flavored sodas, like Thanksgiving dinner, etc.) probably makes a Steak Soda, so you could use that in place of the wine!

  4. says

    Olives, bread, and cheese all go well with wine. Maybe there’s a frosting flavor there? 🙂 I love your family’s sensory take on the cupcakes while they were baking!

  5. Shannon says

    I have an almost empty bottle of Malbec sitting on my counter right now. Didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but this may now be dessert later in the week.

  6. Kenzie says

    I like cupcakes with long flavors 🙂 I have been looking for a fun recipe to try with the Garden Club, and this looks perfect for a bunch of “wino’s”. I am excited to try it, the frosting looks divine!
    Propane Burners

  7. says

    I’ve never really thought about how different wines would effect baked goods! Interesting. These cupcakes sound really good.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate This Recipe: