In Vino Veritas

In wine [there is the] truth. Given that wine was the alcohol of choice in the early days (distilled spirits didn’t come to the forefront of drunkenness until probably around the 12th century CE), it makes sense that this adage was coined rather than in booze there is the truth. Most folks lose some or all of their inhibition(s) while imbibing spirits. Tacitus (56-117 CE) tells us the Germanic peoples always drank wine during councils, as it was thought no one could effectively lie when drunk. I don’t know about you but my decision-making capabilities deteriorate if I drink so one wonders just how much was accomplished!

Anyways, most people think of grapes when they think of wine and that’s what I want to talk about today. You see, grapes Vitis vinifera are more than just their juice, fermented or unfermented! Recent research has found that grapes, especially the red & purple ones, contain all sorts of good chemical compounds, including antioxidants. They’re thought to help with a variety of health conditions ranging from chronic vein insufficiency to several types of cancer. These chemicals are found in the fruit and seeds with a smaller amount in the fruit skin.

I hope everyone knows that grapes are good food. This knowledge goes back to the Egyptians around 6,000 years ago.  The Greeks praised grape’s healing powers (but they mostly talked about wine – the sots). Grapes have been used since antiquity for nutrition, skin & eye diseases, hemorrhoids, sore throats, cholera, smallpox … you get the idea.

If you live in a climate that will support them, growing your own is a great way to take advantage of all that grapes have to offer. I can nearly always find grapes at the grocery store but the leaves? That’s another matter. You’ll have to look at specialty stores for those – they’re used in Mediterranean cooking. Grape leaves are quite astringent and an infusion of them will help dry up diarrhea and heavy menstrual periods.

The fruits are great for coughs – especially if they’re dried (you know, raisins). They contain some of the astringency of the leaves but more importantly are an expectorant. (Today is Chocolate Covered Raisin Day. If you’ve got a cold or the flu, celebrate!)

Before distilled spirits, wine was used to make tinctures – and still is. If you don’t want to use a distilled alcohol (like vodka), using white or red wine will yield a moderately-strong tincture. Red wine will be more health-beneficial than white but white is sometimes tastier for lighter herbs like Lemon Balm.

Many scientists are now touting the benefits of grapeseed extract. Since the seeds can be quite bitter (and rather hard to chew in certain varieties), this could be a good route to go. A large proportion of the beneficial compounds are concentrated in the seeds and taking this extract can increase the levels of antioxidants in your blood. It’s available in capsules, tablets & liquid extract form – just be sure you get a good quality product. (Don’t give children grapeseed extract but do feed them lots of fresh grapes.)

Although I love eating grapes and drinking wine just for the taste, I find grapes in any form quite useful in spells. Thinking about just how many fruits are in a bunch gives us the idea that they’re good for fertility spells.  Place a bunch on your altar, eat them as part of your ritual, or just put a picture of them in your bedroom. Since I’m past that point in my life, I prefer to use them as non-fertility ‘multipliers’ – either in money spells or for increasing my memory & concentration when I’m studying or working. Eating fresh grapes or raisins; or drinking juice while studying is nutritious as well as helpful. Fermentation probably won’t help your concentration so stick to the straight juice!

Grab that bunch of grapes or bottle of wine and get to work on your body & your mind!