Wine Baths Are the Medieval Self-Care Trend We Didn't Know We Were Missing

Wine Baths Are the Medieval Self-Care Trend We Didn't Know We Were Missing

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Melissa Massello
Feb 28, 2018
(Image credit: AIRE Ancient Baths)

If you've ever sipped on a velvety, chewy glass of red wine so delicious that you thought to yourself, "Wow, I could take a bath in this," then you just might be ready to try the Medieval self-care regimen we didn't know we were missing — but are totally here for now.

In the last fifteen years, hotels and spas around the world have begun to bring back wine baths — also called vinotherapy or vinotherapie — by creating dedicated red wine pools on their properties or by putting dedicated services on their spa menus that use beauty and wellness products made from red wine grapes.

The latter is an upwardly mobile and fast-growing trend amongst organic beauty brands, credited to stalwart French sophisticate Caudalie for reinvigorating. And more and more travel destinations, especially in winemaking regions, are seeing the natural appeal of the peel — like this awe-inspiring Japanese resort featured recently by Bustle, as well as these seven hotels and spas, all of which have on-site soaking opportunities for oenophiles.

A chain of urban spas with wine baths called AIRE Ancient Baths has even opened in several downtown locations around the world, including New York City — where former Knicks player Amar'e Stoudemire posted this 2014 wine bath selfie, and then followed up with an ESPN tub-side interview where he touted the recovery benefits of vinotherapy for athletes.

My first thoughts when I heard about wine baths were all of sheer horror, thinking of my several winemaker friends and all of the hard work, time, and energy that they put into producing each and every bottle, then watching the tears flowing down their cheeks as they oversaw their blood, sweat, and tears being poured into the (stoppered) drain — not to be savored, but soaked in.

BUT, as it turns out, wine baths aren't actually wine. Vinotherapy is a self-care regimen and holistic wellness idea dating back to Medieval times that uses not the wine itself but the leftover residue from winemaking, called the "marc" — grape "pips and pulps" — which is basically just upcycling the leftover compost from the winemaking process. I think my proprietor pals would definitely get behind that (I know I certainly do), but apologies to you, dear reader, if you already had visions of pouring out a dozen or so love jugs of Carlo Rossi into your bathtub this weekend, lighting a few candles, and calling it a DIY spa night. Doesn't quite work like that.

Technically speaking, you're not actually "bathing in wine." But you are reaping the health, wellness, and benefits of all those gorgeous grapes and all the sunshine, vitamins, and minerals that Mother Nature imbued them with during their growth. Including polyphenols like reservatrol, compounds naturally found in grape skins, grape pulp, and grape seeds — all part of that magical mash called the marc leftover at the end of the winemaking process — which are the reason that drinking red wine has health benefits, but can also absorbed through your skin. (Science has found polyphenols can even, quite possibly, extend the lifespan of your cells by up to 160 percent.)

According to Vivino, a typical red wine bath or vinotherapy treatment is made by mixing warm water, red vine leaf extract, and grape marc together and then soaking or swimming in it. Fountain of youth, indeed. If you do want to try a DIY wine bath rather than trek hundreds or thousands of miles (and shell out equivalent dollars) for the experience, dozens of sustainable beauty brands have followed suit with at-home vinotherapy products. SpaFinder has a roundup of vinotherapy and wine-inspired beauty products to get started.

Or, if you'd rather just continue drinking your wine, some more good news this month: the health benefits of red wine now also include combatting tooth and gum decay, and improved oral health overall, one brand new study has found.

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