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Vinotherapy (Wine Therapy): Taking the Romance of Wine to a Whole new Level


Many of us have no idea what Vinotherapy is. I for one, imagined myself sprawled out on a chez lounge in the middle of a dimly lit cellar. While my therapist listened attentively to my emotional rollercoaster ride of the day, she would compassionately nod her head while pouring my glass full of Gran Reserva held firmly in my own hand, a tissue to wipe away my tears held firm in the other. I then wondered if vinotherapy described a new magical wine that can cure all of my fears and frustrations. A wine so astounding that with little sip, I’d be healed, spending my newfound days with happy grin pasted on my face. Unfortunately, neither of my theories were accurate, however, I wasn’t far from the mark either.

Although there is no one agreed upon definition of vinotherapy, Robert McIntosh of The Wine Conversation has a fabulous definition in his article on Vinotherapy:

Wine Therapy (Oenotherapy, Vino Terapia, … etc.) claims to take the health benefits of wine to a new level by slapping them on your face, rubbing them on your skin or reducing them to a pill format that you can swallow without having to swirl.

This is the crème de la crème luxury for wine lovers. It takes your adoration of wine to a whole new level as you both sip and bath in your favorite Cabernet Sauvignon, caress your baby smooth skin after a Chardonnay exfoliant or sigh in relaxation as grape pulp oil is delicately rubbed into your previously rigid muscles.

However, prior to this year, I was ignorant to such extravagances. I figured wine should ideally be aimed inside the mouth, rather than all over my body. But by the beginning of January, my education into the methods and philosophies of vinotherapy was fully underway when I received my first ever wine facial, right in the middle of Essencia do Vinho, a bustling wine fair in Oporto, Portugal. Imagine my face covered in a thick Merlot mask as hundreds of people pass by looking at me in both grotesque fear and jealousy. For those single female wine lovers out there, let me emphasis how guys just love seeing you cute woman with an inch of purple grape paste smeared all over your face. “Hey baby, what vintage is that your sporting?”

This was followed, not two weeks later, with a brief tour of Marques de Riscal’s vinotherapy spa. And sadly, although they had invited me for a treatment, our lunch went well past the time of my appointment. And although the food was worth the experience, I wasn’t happy that it interfered with a girl’s “must have” spa treatment. Even I was willing to pass up the restaurant’s chocolate souffle for a deep Tempranillo massage, but alas, it was just not meant to be.

Finally, my Vinotherapy education was topped off with a two hour session last month at the newest vinotherapy spa in Spain. Having been invited several times to visit both their hotel and spa, I finally took them up on their offer to enjoy an afternoon of pampering.

What is Vinotherapy?
The theory behind wine therapy lies in the essence of the grape. The seeds, skin and leaves of the red grape contain antocyanosides, polyphenols and procyanidols, which have been proven to exert more antioxidants, or anti-free radicals, than that of Vitamin E. Consequently, it is said to aid in the vicious fight against aging, by restoring collagen and elastic fibers. Having seen some rather deep wrinkles near my eyes in the mirror as of recent, I’ve been hoping that the treatments I’ve received are still working their magic, even going to far to put just an extra drop or two of wine on those “troubled” areas anytime I think of it. I’m taking bets that if I both consume and cover my entire body with wine, I’ll either age with grace and beauty, or I’ll become a raisin.

Is Vinotherapy Worth your Time and Money?
If you’ve never tried vinotherapy in your life, go for it! It’s fun. It’s a good story. And hey, everyone needs a little gratuitous pampering every now and then. However, this assumes that you have 150 Euros burning in your back pocket to spend. While some of you would rather use that money for a holiday weekend in the country, a nice dinner, or a case of wine, there might be others who find vinotherapy the perfect compliment to a vacation getaway. If that just so happens to be you, here’s what I suggest you experience.

The Best and the Worst of Vinotherapy

gabriellaspa-1-of-1.jpgSign me up!

Having received the gamut of vinotherapy offerings, I’d suggest you keep it to a facial. Why? Because of any part of your body that needs to fight against free radicals and pollution, it’s your face. Plus, it was the one treatment that I found myself lost in complete relaxation, while being sprayed with flower essences, containing the soluble part of the aromatic molecules, massaged with various muds, grape oils and exfoliants, allowing me to feel younger, fresher and simply, happy. My headaches disappeared, my shoulders relaxed, and I felt like a thousands euros, which is impressive when considering the value of the Euro right now 😉

The other option I would suggest you try is the wine therapy bath. Now keep in mind that I have only bathed in reduced Cabernet Sauvignon must, and have never tried other common treatments used with Tempranillo or Merlot, but the experience was well worth its precursor to an hour long massage. Granted, I can’t promise that you wouldn’t get the exact same benefits from dumping a bottle of wine in your own bathtub, but who wants to clean up that mess later?!

Thanks, but no Thanks!
What I wouldn’t suggest is the full body exfoliant. This is an all around a bad idea unless your body is one big callous. Simply put, it hurts! Trust me, there is nothing that my butt has sat on long enough to qualify sharp crushed pips being rubbed into this very sensitive area, nor does my chest need to be buffed and shined. If the message therapist kept to my feet and hands, I’d be a happy camper, but you just can’t convince me that pain equals relaxation. My mother tried to pull that on me every time I had to drink that horrid pink cough syrup saying, “Honey, no pain, no gain.” But I’m 32 now, and dammit, screw the pain!

Where to find Vinotherapy in Spain and Portugal?
Spa Vinotherapie Caudalie Espana:

Located in the heart of Marques de Riscals’ City of Wine in Rioja Alave, this spa is for the uber extravagant. From hot stone treatments using essential grape seed oil to a floral bath of white viura, your wish is their command. They have several packages available depending on how extensive you’d like your experience to be, ranging from a romantic couple massage to a full on 3 hour vinotherapy adventure. Well staffed and beautifully decorated, I trust you could spend an entire day finding excuses to hang out.

Can Bonastre:

Located just south of Barcelona in DO Penedes, on a 16th-century estate at the foot of Montserrat mountain and surrounded by sweeping vineyards, this is an absolutely beautiful spa. Intimate, homey and familiar, you feel more as if you’re in someone’s home than a decked out spa. Offering Turkish baths, ayurvedic massages and of course, a wide range of vinotherapy treatments, I trust you won’t be disappointed. And one suggestion, stay at the hotel. Between the incredible and friendly staff and the wonderful food, you’ll thank me in the end.


So maybe you’re not a huge fan of traveling all the way to Spain for a treatment. A backup plan may be to get the same benefits from the intimacy of your own home. Aroms-Nature provides homemade vinotherapy products for sale. Simply check out their website, perusing through the mosaic of different fruit, plant and vegetable products to find exactly the treatment you’re looking for. Tab over to the contact page, and tell them what your looking for. Maybe not the most user-friendly method, but at least you can rest assured that your grapes are coming from one of the most renowned wine regions in the world.

Where have you gone to receive a vinotherapy treatment? Was it worth your time and money? Would you do it again?


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