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Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018

Wine therapy: the elixir of youth

Wine is not only for drinking, but also for bathing in. The new wine tourism bets on extracting the benefits of the drink by means of beauty treatments

Until now, wine was felt through the eyes, with its colour, through the nose, with the aroma, and above all with the taste, retaining the notes on the palate. The time has come for a fourth sense to be added to the experience: touch, capable of providing as much pleasure as the best of tastings.

Wine therapy is one of the most recent commitments in the  wine tourism sector. We are talking about massages in which the cream and oil are replaced by grapes, or directly by wine. The experts stress the antioxidant nature of the wine, given the grape’s polyphenols, which favour the elasticity of the skin and a greater rejuvenation. They also claim that it helps to stimulate circulation, reduce the abdomen or bolster the buttocks, among other benefits.

Treatment usually begins with an exfoliation to prepare the skin, almost always with the grape seeds followed by a massage and a wrapping, where some of the most commonly used varieties are Lambrusco, rich in minerals; Sauvignon or Chianti, with relaxing attributes; or Cabernet and Merlot, which are said to help eliminate dead cells. Other newer methods include bathing directly in the barrel or bandaging with hot grapes to ensure absorption by the skin.

Already in ancient Egypt, grape masks were made to improve skin conditions. However, the origin of wine therapy is in the region of Graves, near Bordeaux, where some of the oldest wineries in Europe are located. Its forerunners were Mathilde Cathiard and her husband, Bertrand Thomas, who in the 90s decided to do study together with Joseph Vercauteren, Professor of Pharmacognosy, to extract and use polyphenols, resveratrol and viniferine from vines. Later they would start the treatment at the spa Les Sources de Caudalie.

This is now a common practice in many countries. The first wine spa in Spain was the Hotel Golf Peralada, located in Girona, of Freixenet Wellness. In the area of Catalonia, the ACBUA Wine Spa in Can Bonastre, located in a Estate dating back to the 16th century and at the feet of the Montserrat mountain, is also worth mentioning, as it offers sessions of cavatherapy. The Spa Vinothérapie Caudalie Marqués de Riscal, in La Rioja Alavesa, provides relaxing treatments with views of the vineyards. Other centres in Spain are the Hotel & Spa Arzuaga, in Valladolid (Ribera del Duero), or the Valbusenda wineries, in Zamora (Toro).

All this has led to a revolution in the wine tourism sector, where the consumer is not only pleased with tasting the wines, but also aspires to live a whole sensory experience around them. Nowadays, wineries and vineyards are a profitable business, not only because they produce and bottle, but also because they are historical buildings.

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