It has long been known that a glass of red wine is good for you, but now spas are proclaiming the great grape's properties and using it in their treatments. "Vinotherapy" clients are massaged and bathed in wine and vine extracts. Supporters insist that grape antioxidants are more powerful than vitamins C and E and have a positive effect on the skin. "Because of oxidation, the body 'rusts' in the same way an apple turns brown," says Geraldine Mitton, medical director of Santé Winelands Hotel, a wellness center in the Paarl-Franschhoek valley, one of South Africa's best-known wine regions. The solution: "Antioxidants in grapes help restore elasticity in the skin, improve circulation and combat premature aging."
Typical vinotherapy treatments read like a wine list. Wine baths wash the body with grape seeds, skins, stalks and pulp. There are exfoliating Shiraz or Cabernet body scrubs using essential oils and crushed seeds, as well as Merlot and Chardonnay wraps—you're plastered in a grape paste, wrapped in plastic and lowered onto a waterbed. Santé Winelands Hotel is a 45-minute drive from Cape Town. tel: (27-21) 875 8100; www.santewellness.co.za
. Another option for those with a craving for full-bodied treatments is Les Sources de Caudalie, which set up the first Vinothérapie Spa in 1999 at the Château Smith Haut Lafitte vineyard, a 20-minute drive from Bordeaux in France. tel: (33-5) 57-83-82-82; www.sources-caudalie.com
. And if the thought of bathing in wine doesn't immediately make sense, ask yourself: Could it really be worse than mud?