Wine & Grapes from Table to Skin: Grapes, wine, vineyards (uva, vino, vigneti) and immediately the image that comes to mind is friends around the table, glasses of wine and grape festivals.
When it’s time for Vendemmia Tuscany is in full swing.
Grapes: According to science…
Accumulating scientific evidence suggests that red wine possesses a diverse range of biologically active compounds which may be beneficial to our health. Numerous researches have focused on specific components present in grape seeds: the now famous polyphenols that appear to have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system as well as preventing arteriosclerosis (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3023893/ )
So much so that in France they went the extra mile by promoting the Grape Diet as an alternative approach against cardiovascular diseases- https://secretsofnaturalhealth.com/5grape.html
Numerous researches also provide evidence that a moderate, regular consumption of red wine acts as a boost for the immune system.
At the beginning of the 1990s, press and news started talking about the Bordeaux syndrome, according to which, in the French city, the majority of its population never suffered from heart problems. Researchers found that the only thing everybody within the test shared, was the regular consumption of red wine. From these results to creating the “French paradox”, was just a small step.
Wine culture in Italy
I grew up in a family where red wine was commonly served during meals and my grandfather never skipped his half glass at lunch and dinner. Wine in Italy, and in Tuscany in particular, is part of the table custom and often children are given a glass of water with a few drops of red wine just to make them feel “older” and gradually get them used to a healthy approach to wine. As often said, Italians rarely drink to get drunk. They drink as part of the pleasure found in a meal with friends, as a side drink to a particular kind of food. Wine is never demonized in the Italian culture.
Within my childhood memories I‘ve got some “merende” (afternoon snacks) with pane , vino rosso e zucchero. Delicious and totally guilt-free!
In Nature the precious polyphenols are widely diffused and are useful tools to protect plants against fungi, bacteria and viruses. These molecules are also powerful antioxidants, meaning they are able to catch harmful free radicals and they have been (and still are) carefully studied to contrast ageing, in particular skin ageing.
Polyphenols we assume through food are a real alternative to precious Vitamin E and wine is the drink with the highest content of them. There are more than 200 types of polyphenols in wine and Resveratrol appears to be one of the most important for health. Discovered by American scientists in 1992, it had been used for centuries in traditional Asian medicine too. It has a powerful anti- oxidant action, even stronger than vitamin E, thus contrasting arteriosclerosis.
The beauty industry started to invest a lot of money in scientific research to show how grape and seed extracts can be excellent anti-ageing tools if properly used. Around 1970 it was the Vinotherapy boom in France and, later all over Europe too.
The famous French brand Caudalie, strongly supported by scientific studies and an excellent marketing campaign was created, based on grape extracts and accompanied by exclusive Spas offering treatments inspired to wine and wine extracts all over the continent. They are still very popular and numerous cosmetic companies, outside France too, now produce beauty products with the precious molecules. We just need to keep our eyes open!
In fact, some laboratories produce grape seed extracts (technically indicated as OPC) of high quality due their high content, others only use grape marc – vinaccia extracts, thus with a very low content of OPC.
Italian and French women in the countryside, when working in the vineyards during Vendemmia, used to rub the sap of the grapevines on the skin to reduce freckles and brown spot. It was considered a natural remedy. Now research has shown that vine sap contains a particular polyphenol acting as melanin regulator. The French brand mentioned above, isolated the molecule and was able to patent the so called Viniferine with high anti-inflammatory properties as well as lightening and reducing dark skin spots.
Grape seed oil is good too
Interesting enough, the oil extracted from grape seeds was also used by our Tuscan ancestors who knew its precious properties without, probably, knowing the facts: natural unscented Grape seed Oil (Vitis Vinifera) is rich in vitamin E and has a high content of linoleic acid, thus making it an excellent natural product indicated for sensitive and very dry skin. It’s the base for many skincare products. Moreover, grape seed oil is widely used in the cosmetic industry due to its hypoallergenic properties that make it ideal for the most sensitive and allergy-prone skin.
The seeds too can be helpful beauty allies. Did you know that Etruscan women used them crushed in a mortar and mixed with oil to make a fantastic body scrub? The mechanic action of the seeds and the goodies released by the oil and seeds on the skin was the ultimate anti-ageing treatment!
So we could say that, nothing is thrown away from the grapes!
During Chiara’s Tuscany –Back to Beauty Basic Workshop, we teach people just that: how to combine natural ingredients to make your own beauty products following ancient wisdom.
The world of wine is fascinating. So strictly linked to its territory is a competitive world full of history, story-telling and passion.
From passion and love for a challenge, a wine project linking many European countries was born. It’s a research through old and sometimes completely disappeared vines dating back to Etruscan and Roman times. The project aims to recreate productive vineyards using the very same ancient vines so that, drinking the final nectar, the wine, really will be like sipping history.
The fascinating project has a whole Tuscan heart and I am going to tell you more in another article.
It’s a beautiful story combining a historical house, a noble family and a deep love for the territory. So stay tuned and, in the meantime,…let’s rise the glasses and toast to life , as Italians say “ Alla salute! Cin cin”