Running out the door, on my way to this little coastal resort—I needed a quiet place to write, meet a deadline—I grabbed the new Food & Wine, the October issue. After dinner, as I was falling asleep in my room, I was flipping through the pages and came to rest on a piece titled “The Healing Power of Grapes.” The subtitle says it all: “Recent medical studies suggest that wine can prevent illness and promote longevity; new grape-based vinotherapy treatments promise to help you live out your years more beautifully.”

The idea is basically to put a vinous spin on your luxury spa treatments: red wine extract in your facial mud mask; grapeseed body scrub and grapeseed-oil massage. Seems to me a sure sign of late-empire decadence, and of the utterly unhinged nature of our culture’s craving for status and luxury. As if drinking wine, and tasting dozens of different wines, and learning to pair wine with food, and flying around the world to taste wine at various wineries weren’t enough. Now we’ve got to smear it all over ourselves, and somehow leave our flawed humanity behind as we become utterly at one with the exalted purity of the grape.

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