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Good Grape!  From Stem to Stern

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Thereare female-oriented magazines on the newsstand every month with screamingheadlines of, “Better Skin in 30 days,” “Get that Glow Back” and the like. Usually this headline is nestled next to, orunderneath the one that screams “Make your man wild” and “Tighten your bunswhile seated at Work.”

It’sbrainless stuff, at least to the male species, and every issue has someavocado/cucumber/almond paste elixir that is designed to take away the wrinklesand perk-up flagging skin, or so I’ve glanced in the twilight hour at the endof the day between brushing teeth and lights out as my wife vacillates betweendoing Soduko or reading Simple Living magazine. 

So,I was mildy interested, for research reasons only, and as a public service for female readers, when I saw a notice in WineEnthusiast magazine about Ishi Luxury Gourmet Skinfood. It is coming stateside.

Ishiis purporting to do spa treatments with grapes and grape by-products, under theproduct line banner of: VinoTherapy.

Fromthe Ishi web site:

Throughoutthe centuries, several books have been written on the medicinal qualities ofgrapes and wine, and in the book Liber de Vinis it states that ‘rosemarywine has wonderful qualities, for instance it can regulate appetite, exhilaratethe soul, straighten tendons, make the face beautiful and hair grow.’

LouisXIV introduced wine in his court due to ‘its healing properties and as itexalts beauty and improves facial features and complexion’ . It wascommonly discussed during the 19th Century how Grape Must was used to preparemasks and compresses for the face and neck.

Ishiwill have two treatment offerings available in the States very soon.

TheVisa di Vino is a four “course” facial treatment that luxuriates the body andincludes:

· An infusion of red grapevine leaves or small glassof red wine

· A refreshing and soothing tonic lotion made fromchardonnay grapes from the shores of Lake Garda followed by a cleansing milemade with sun ripened grapes from Tuscany to thoroughly cleanse the skin.

Othercourses include grape must and a night cream made from Chianti grapes.

The second offering is a body toning and slimming treatment that utilizes a "gentle massage with a cocktail of Sangiovese grapes."

Uh-huh.

Ina far cooler application of grape by-products, artist Christina LoCascio, alsothe Tasting Room Manager at Artiste Winery (yes, no kidding, an artist asManager at Artiste) is painting some very beautiful pictures using mostly wine in lieu of watercolors. 

From her artists statement:

During this time I have studiedwine and winemaking realizing early on that it is an art form of its own. Thisunderstanding allowed me to explore wine in the physical sense as paint. Painting with wine is fusion and visual expression of my twin passions, art and wine.

WineSpectator had an article on her in their December ’05 issue:

While LoCascio uses a small amount of watercolor paint fordetailing, she relies mainly on red wine to produce colors ranging fromcopper to violet. To achieve this range, LoCascio has tinkered withdifferent varietals and methods of extracting color from the juice. Athick, inky paint comes from boiling two bottles of wine down to lessthan one glass, while white wine is used to lighten dark areas andclean brushes, much like water with pastel paints.

LoCascio’s boyfriend, Michael Larner of Larner Vineyard, alsohelps with the process. A graduate student at UC, Davis’ School ofViticulture and Enology, Larner uses a rotary evaporator to separatealcohol and water from the wine’s pigment, creating a viscous paintwith deep red hues. He’s also experimented with the pH levels inwine—adding tartaric acid for more acidity and sodium hydroxide for amore basic paint. The acidic tinctures become a vibrant purple, whilethe basic fluids appear brown to black.

There you have it.  A good weekend:  a massage in the morning with some grape by-products, a gallery in the afternoon with a provocative painting using wine as a medium, the night is free to indulge you as you see fit and then a little vino with the ham on Sunday.  What a grape life we can all enjoy!



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