To make the syrup, I took an extra bottle of Lambrusco (at $4.99 it invites experimentation) and combined it with 2/3 cup sugar and heated it over medium low heat for 40 minutes to reduce the mixture to a thick syrup, being careful not to scorch the wine.
While it was reducing, I removed the 2 tablespoons of liquid and substituted it for the required water in the frosting mix. The reduced Lambrusco syrup infused the white frosting and tinted it a lovely pinky lilac color. When the cupcakes were cooled, I punctured the tops with a wooden toothpick and brushed them liberally with the Lambrusco syrup. I let them set overnight. After they were frosted, in a Cupcake War winning move, I garnished with a candied Hibiscus flower.
For the wine, '08 Le Grotte Lambrusco, Emiliano Romagna, Italy: dark ruby color with sparkle and sweetness without being cloying. A pleasant grapey flavor with hints of tart fruit and fizz. 8.5% alcohol means it's a party wine sans lampshade. We paired it with cupcakes, but they suggested pork and beef dishes. I could so see it with Chinese food. All in all a perfect Drink Wine with Dinner ringer, since at an easy to pair and easy on the wallet $4.99, there's no excuse not to drink wine with dinner!
I timed my efforts and came in at 1 hour 21 minutes. Trader Joe's did all the heavy lifting! And under $40! Not bad for first course and dessert with wine pairings for 6!
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