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Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Sounds crazy, right? A red wine chocolate cake??

But when you think about a really good glass of red wine, paired with some dark chocolate, things start to make a bit more sense.

Or maybe you’re a wino, and you didn’t even question the combination in the first place!! Whatever your thoughts are on this cake flavor, if you enjoy red wine and chocolate, this cake is for you.

wine lover's chocolate red wine cake

Why Put Red Wine In A Cake?

While I’m a big fan of chocolate, wine is not my drink of choice. I’m a beer girl, through and through (hence my beer mug cake!).

With that being said, I don’t discriminate against different types of alcohol. That’d be like trying to pick a favorite child! I enjoy a good glass of wine when the occasion calls for it.

In general, I love making boozy cakes. Cue the long list of other alcohol-inspired cakes I’ve made:

I’m not sure if a classy chocolate and wine cake really falls into the category of boozy cakes, but this recipe uses more than a cup of red wine. You can taste the red wine in each bite.

photo of chelsey white with spilled red wine chocolate cake

The point of going through that extensive list was to highlight that I haven’t really played around with wine in any of my past cake recipes. And it was about time.

The Perfect Pairing: Red Wine and Chocolate

You can’t really add red wine to a vanilla cake though. For starters, the cake would be a creepy pale purplish color.

It also just isn’t a flavor that goes with buttercream on it’s own. Trust me, I tried it. It was lackluster at best!

That’s where the chocolate comes in. It creates a happy middle ground, that makes it seems so natural to pour red wine into your chocolate cake batter.

My advice is to use good quality baking cocoa and a red wine that you wouldn’t mind drinking on it’s own. I used a bottle of Malbec that I happily drank a glass of while whipping this cake up.

I also recommend using a large, light weight wine glass. The larger it is, the more epic it will look on top of the cake!! Most large wine glasses are also pretty thin, which is exactly what you want for this cake.

Image of a red wine chocolate cake next to a glass of red wine

Safety First

Any time you add something non-edible to a cake, you need to be careful. It could be plastic straws to help support a cake, or wooden skewers to secure a decoration.

Or in this case, you could be shoving a wine glass on top of a cake.

This is the type of cake that needs to be handled with extreme care, especially if you have to transport it somewhere.

You could even bring extra ganache with you, and top the cake on site!

Please be mindful that glass is involved, and use your best judgement when it comes to handling and cutting into this cake.

I’d recommend removing the glass before you cut into the cake, to be safe.

image of adding the wine glass to the top of a red wine chocolate cake

My Original Red Wine Cake

I actually made my first red wine inspired cake for a friend years ago. She loved red wine, and it was her birthday cake.

While I did incorporated wine into the decoration, the actual cake layers and frosting didn’t include any actual wine.

The cake was decorated with wine colored ganache drips, and an upside down wine glass.

The concept is supposed to look like the glass has spilled, pouring wine all over the cake. I dubbed it the one glass too many cake, and instagram went wild over it.

It was my first instagram video that went viral, and it ended up getting more than 4 million views.

The original cake had such dramatic look. However, because I went for more of a reddish ganache, it almost looked a bit gory.

"One Glass Too Many" Red Wine Cake

It almost reminded me of my halloween shattered glass cake, which is definitely not the vibe I was after with this cake!!

What’s Different About This Red Wine Cake

This time around, I wanted to develop a cake recipe that allowed you taste a little bit of wine in every night.

Once I finally got the recipe right, I decided to decorate the cake in a similar fashion to the original “one glass too many” cake.

On this go around, I tried to make it look a bit less haphazard, like it was that final glass of wine that put you over the edge.

The drips are a bit more controlled, and a deeper, purple/reddish shade.

I also added some chocolate sprinkles around the base, because this is a red wine AND chocolate flavored cake.

I always try to decorate my cakes in a way that lets you know exactly what’s waiting for you on the inside.

A sprinkle boarder around the bottom of this cake was the perfect way to hint at the chocolate layers inside this cake.

While we’re on the topic of sprinkles, have I got a deal for you! If you need to refresh your sprinkle supply, or want to step your sprinkle game up, you can use the code CHELSWEETS15 to get 15% your order from Sweetapolita!

Just thought I’d share some sprinkle love with all of my fellow bakers 🙂

image of decorated red wine cake, with red wine drips and chocolate sprinkles around the base

Share Your Creations With Me!

If you try this red wine chocolate cake recipe, please tag me @chelsweets and use the #chelsweets so that I can see your amazing creations!

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 24

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Image of a red wine chocolate cake next to a glass of red wine

Love red wine and chocolate? Then this red wine layer cake recipe is for you! You can taste red wine in every bite of this moist, indulgent chocolate layer cake.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes


Red Wine Chocolate Cake Layers

  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar (500 grams)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp (2 sticks, 226 grams)
  • 4 large eggs, room temp (224 grams)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (6 grams)
  • 1 tsp baking soda (6 grams)
  • 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
  • 1 cup hot water (237 grams)
  • 1 cup unsweetened baking cocoa (100 grams)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temp (120 grams)
  • 1/2 cup red wine (120 grams)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (390 grams)

Vanilla and Red Wine Buttercream Frosting

  • 3 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (678 grams)
  • 11 cups powdered sugar (1375 grams)
  • 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (or whipping cream) (75 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract (12 grams)
  • 2 Tbsp of red wine (24 grams)
  • maroon gel food coloring (if desired)

Red Wine Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar (200 grams)
  • 1/2 cup water (120 grams)
  • 1/2 cup of red wine (120 grams)

Red Wine Ganache Drips

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (60 grams)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips (175 grams)
  • maroon gel food coloring


Chocolate Red Wine Cake Layers

  1. Begin by preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line four seven-inch or three eight 8-inch pans with parchment rounds, and spray with non-stick spray.
  2. Add the sugar and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer, and mix on high for 1 minute with a whisk attachment. The mixture should become light in color.
  3. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Then add baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix on high for another minute.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the cup of hot water, and black cocoa. Whisk until no clumps remain. Gently stir in the buttermilk and red wine.
  5. Next, add 1 cup of flour to the butter/egg mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula, to ensure the flour is fully incorporated.
  6. Pour in half of the cocoa mixture, and gently pulse the mixture to incorporate the liquid (if you don't, you'll end up splattering the cocoa mixture all over your kitchen!)
  7. Mix in the 2nd cup of flour, at a low speed. Pour in the remaining cocoa mixture, and again gently pulse, then mix on low until fully combined.
  8. Add in the last cup of flour, and mix on low until the flour is incorporated. Mix on high for 30 additional seconds, to incorporate a bit more air into the batter.
  9. Evenly divide between the prepared pans. I like to use a kitchen scale to ensure each pan has exactly the same amount of batter.
  10. Bake for 32-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  11. Allow layers to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around the edge of the pans to help separate the layers from the pans.
  12. Place the pans in the freezer for about 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process. Once the layers are fully cooled, carefully flip the pans and remove the layers from the pans.
  13. Use a serrated knife to level the tops of the layers, and then frost as desired.

Vanilla and Red Wine Buttercream Frosting

  1. While the cake layers bake and cool, make the vanilla buttercream frosting.
  2. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Gradually mix in the powdered sugar and heavy cream on a low speed.
  3. Once fully mixed, add the vanilla and salt, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the desired consistency is reached. 
  4. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (a quarter of a cup at a time).
  5. Place half the frosting in a separate bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap.
  6. Add the red wine to the remaining frosting, and mix until combined. If desired, add maroon gel food coloring to make a wine-colored frosting. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Red Wine Simple Syrup:

  1. Place water and sugar in a pot.
  2. Heat over high heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture just begins to boil.
  3. Remove from heat, and allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes.
  4. Add in red wine, and set aside.

Red Wine Ganache Drips:

  1. Heat heavy cream in a heat-proof bowl in the microwave for 45 seconds, until it's just beginning to bubble. Gently pour white chocolate chips into the heavy cream, making sure they are fully covered with cream. Allow mixture to sit for 1 minute.
  2. Stir slowly until the cream and white chocolate are combined. Some bits of chocolate may not be fully melted yet. Heat the mixture again for 20 seconds, and stir. Repeat as necessary until all the chocolate bits are fully melted and incorporated.
  3. Add in the maroon gel food coloring.
  4. Allow to cool until desired viscosity is reached (barely warm to the touch).
  5. If it seems too thin or thick, you can add a touch more chocolate chips or heavy cream! The type of cream and white chocolate that you use can affect the consistency, so feel free to adjust as needed.

To Assemble The Cake:

  1. Carefully soak the cake layers with the red wine simple syrup using a kitchen brush.
  2. Stack and frost cake layers on a greaseproof cake board, using a dab of frosting to help stick the first cake layer to the board.
  3. Add an even layer of red wine buttercream between each cake layer.
  4. Spread a thin coat of red wine frosting around the cake, to fully cover the cake layers. Smooth using a bench scraper, then chill the cake in the fridge (10 minutes) or freezer (5 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  5. Add a second, thicker layer of uncolored, vanilla frosting to the cake, and smooth using a bench scraper.
  6. Gently press the chocolate sprinkles around the base of the cake.
  7. Chill the cake in the fridge (20 minutes) or freezer (5 minutes) again, until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  8. Top the cake with a small mound of frosting, and cover the top of the cake with the red wine ganache. Be careful as you cover the top of the cake so that none of the ganache runs down the sides.
  9. Add the red wine-colored drips around the sides of the cake using a plastic squirt bottle or a spoon.


These cake layers can be made in advance!! Learn more about how far in advance they can be made, and how to properly wrap them in my post on how to make cake layers ahead of time.

This buttercream can also be made in advance!! I highly recommend making it ahead of time to make the decoration of a cake less stressful and more fun. It keeps in the fridge for several weeks, if stored in an airtight container.

When you're ready to use the chilled buttercream, remove it from the fridge a few hours in advance (or overnight) and allow it to come to room temperature. Give it a good stir with a rubber spatula or your kitchen aid, to get rid of any air bubbles that may have formed. Once the buttercream is smooth again, it's ready to use!

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 720Total Fat 36gSaturated Fat 22gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 121mgSodium 313mgCarbohydrates 97gFiber 0gSugar 83gProtein 4g

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Tuesday 28th of March 2023

Question, can I use regular food dye drops if I don’t have gel? Do the chips have to be mini?


Sunday 2nd of April 2023

Hi Steph,

Great questions! You can totally use regular white chocolate chips, and you can use regular liquid food coloring if needed. However, it will be harder to create a really deep color. Hope that helps, happy baking!

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Wednesday 27th of October 2021

Hi Julia, My friend and I made a vegan version of this, though made a chocolate cake instead of a wine cake. Followed your steps for the decoration though. However, when we inserted the wine glass it did not hold and it started leaning to one side until it broke the cake (tragically hilarious). Can I ask how you managed to insert the glass without such a thing happening? Have you got any idea what we could have done wrong?

Debbie Annear

Saturday 25th of September 2021

Thanks for the recipe, I plan on making it for my daughter-in-law’s birthday, but the only thing is she’s allergic to red food coloring. Do you have any suggestions?

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