The health benefits of wine are undisputed. Red wine – in moderation, that is – has heart-healthy benefits and doctors say that the antioxidants even help prevent heart disease. The early Europeans were ages ahead in documenting the grape’s health benefits. Greek physician Hippocrates even used wine to treat patients in the 4th century B.C. But it’s not just drinking wine that is good for you; wine is good for your skin too. Thanks to some cheeky college students that commented on wasting the antioxidants in discarded grape seeds on a tour of the Château Smith Haut Lafitte winery in Bordeaux in 1990, the husband and wife team Mathilde and Bertrand Thomas began to experiment and vinotherapy was born.
Though the word “vinotherapy” might conjure up images of popping the cork on a bottle and sharing it with girlfriends while you dish about man troubles or maybe lounging back with your favorite reality tv show and a glass of jammy, comforting red, vinotherapy is actually a technique used by spa experts that incorporates wine by-products into treatments. Scientific research has proven that grape seeds, skin and stems are rich in phytophenols and resveratrol. Wine by-products are also soothing to the skin and promote anti-inflammation of the skin.
The Ritz Carlton Chicago offers manicure and pedicure vinotherapy treatments and my feet and hands were practically begging me to try these treatments out after a few weeks of kayaking, canoeing, biking, flying trapeze, and race car driving had left me with blisters and calluses. The Ritz Carlton Spa came to my rescue and had me relaxed just minutes after my arrival.
With my feet soaking in a wine-infused foot bath, a heated neck wrap soothing my aching muscles after way too many hours of trying to nap on planes, and a glass of bubbly in hand I could have gone to sleep in that chair. My pedicure included the usual: removing my non-chipped polish, trimming and shaping my nails, and pumice-ing off all the ick that comes with tons of walking and active adventures. But beyond that, as I nibbled on chocolate dipped strawberries and sipped my champagne, my technician applied a wine-infused scrub that smelled amazing and followed it with a masque that left my feet and legs ultra soft.
She didn’t even make me get out of my uber comfy chair and move over to the manicure table to do my manicure. I continued to kick back and relax as my nails were filed, my hands and arms massaged, and finally painted. It was two hours of pampering that was quite possibly heaven in a chair.
All polished, my vinotherapy continued as I headed one floor up to the Ritz Carlton Chicago’s roof garden restaurant deca for lunch and, of course, wine. Overlooking the Magnificent Mile, the rooftop terrace was the perfect place to continue a relaxing afternoon following a morning at the spa. High above the bustling shoppers and rowdy World Cup fans viewing the USA game on Millennium Park’s big screen, it was like another world and easy to forget you’re in a busy city like Chicago. In no rush and with nothing else on the calendar (for once!) for the day, we leisurely nibbled on crab and corn lollipops with “secret” dipping sauce. They were like cake pops but made of crab cake instead. These were nicely paired with a rosé wine.
For our entrees, I had the bratwurst sliders at our waitress’ suggestion. Great suggestion! The sliders each had a piece of bratwurst sliced in half and were topped with aged Wisconsin cheddar and cucumber kimchi. I was a bit skeptical of the kimchi when ordering, but it was a perfect pairing for the bratwurst and not at all the typical Korean kimchi I was expecting. Delicious! The other thing I had considered ordering was the Wagyu beef burger and my sister-in-law got it. Messy but delicious she described it. The burger is topped with a braised short rib and a big fat onion ring. I took a bite of the short rib and the meat practically melted in my mouth. Both the sliders and the burger were wonderfully complimented by the Valentin Bianchi Malbec.
A trio of ice cream sandwiches and a bucket of ice cream bonbons arrived for dessert. Though I loved the presentation of the bonbons – they come in a tiny pail that looks like Oscar the Grouch’s garbage can and have dry ice poured in to make a smoking effect – the ice cream sandwiches were my favorite of the desserts.
Between the vinotherapy treatments at the spa and lunch at deca, it was the perfect way to un”wine”! Book your own vinotherapy treatments at Ritz Carlton Chicago.
Disclosure: Our vinotherapy treatments and lunch at deca were provided by Ritz Carlton Chicago in order to bring you this story. As always, all opinions are entirely our own and were in no way influenced by fabulous wine-infused foot, leg, and hand massages or sinfully delicious food. Okay, well maybe a little!