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Are there actual benefits to a red wine bath?

Written by Madeline Puckette

A red wine bath (aka vinotherapy) is a spa treatment popularized by Caudalie, a spa brand, that uses wine grape extracts in their products. You’ve probably seen pictures or heard stories about red wine baths before and their health benefits. So, are they true? Should we be mixing red wine into our bubble bath on a regular basis?

“stain your tub pink with Merlot…”

If you’re a bit leery of soaking in your red wine, we commend you for being skeptical (don’t change!). Let’s find out what the deal is with this vinotherapy stuff and why you might not want to stain your tub pink with Merlot just yet.

Red Wine Bath: BS or Freaking Amazing?

Red wine bath benefits

Red Wine Bath = Vinotherapy

This story starts in Bordeaux (aka Merlot country) where a savvy young French girl by the name of Mathilde Thomas (that’s “Mah-tild Toe-mah”) was touring guests in her parents’ winery. One guest, who was a scientist, wondered what happened to all the winery waste after the pressing of grapes (e.g. the grape skins, seeds, stems, leaves, and occasional dead spider). He explained that grape seed oil was a miracle oil found to be 10x better at preventing wrinkles than vitamin E oil. Miss Thomas listened very intently. Eventually she founded Caudalie, a skincare and spa treatment brand that uses wine grape extracts. They are all the rage in Europe!

How it works

Wine in a hot tub is not a good idea, but once in a while its not a bad thing
Hey! You’re supposed to be bathing in the red wine, not drinking it! by sookie

Caudalie trademarked the term “Vinothérapie” and it is a specialty spa bath that adds red vine leaf extract and post-winemaking grape crud (aka marc) to clean warm water. The marc and red vine leaf extract are actually quite high in polyphenols which, if you’ve done your research, are bitter tasting organic compounds found in plants that are highly effective antioxidants. The idea is that if you suspend yourself in this stuff, it will be absorbed into your skin as well as into your body. If it’s actually absorbed, it would be the secret to feeling and looking young. Just so you know, certain polyphenols have shown to stop cancer cells from growing in vitro (if you skipped biology class, in vitro means in a petri dish).

Does it work?

BAD NEWS FIRST First, in case you’re still wondering, pouring wine in a bathtub is not the same as this vinotherapy treatment. Red wine is alcohol and it’s going to dehydrate your skin (kind of like isopropyl alcohol does). You’ll have a fun time though, if you absorb the alcohol through your bottom however, other than that, pouring red wine into a tub is not going to give you the supposed benefits described above.

Additionally, no scientist nor Caudalie has actually tested whether or not red wine baths actually work. In fact, to make matters worse, there have been a string of recent studies pointing out the difficulty humans have absorbing the polyphenol compounds (particularly resveratrol).

GOOD NEWS! The good news is that wine grape seed oil and wine polyphenols are still good for your skin. So, bear with us, we have a crazy/fun/stupid idea…

We Made Up a DIY Wine Bath

Wine Folly's Red Wine Salve "cure-all"

Skip the part where you pour bottles of wine in your tub…

You might be able to make your own wine bath treatment to keep your wrinkles in check. We have no idea if this will work, or cause skin reactions, but it sounds like fun, based on the hurf-blurf above. Our one caveat is that we haven’t tested it, so we really have no idea how it will turn out. With that, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Crude or nearly crude grapeseed oil – We found a manufacturer in South Africa
  • Grapeseed extract powder – This is the stuff inside those little grapeseed pills
  • Red grape tannin powder (aka grapeseed flour) – Here’s one from the United States

Why crude oil? Many of the good, natural, bitter polyphenols are likely removed in the oil refining process.


Mix ingredients together. Maybe 2 parts grape seed oil to 1 part each of the other stuff. Again, we’re not sure. The consistency should be pasty, oily and gritty. Then, standing naked in your bathroom next to a warm tub of water, rub the grape mush all over your body with a microdermabrasion sponge (they remind me a lot of auto wax applicators, come to think of it). It will be rough and gritty so be very careful to only dab it on your face (if at all). After it’s all applied, get into your tub and take a nice relaxing soak for 30 minutes. Finally, take a shower and wash all the oil off.

Report back, and tell us how it goes. If you want us to try it first; we might test it on our own skin–if you manage to convince a grape seed oil manufacturer to deliver the ingredients!


Wine Bath Vinothérapie treatments by Caudalie

Resveratrol offers health boost in overweight mice, but maybe not humans

Article in NY Mag with great quotes and comments from scientists and Matilde Thomas

Written byMadeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly

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