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Whether it’s a sparkling Prosecco enjoyed with friends or a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon over dinner, there’s nothing better than a good glass of wine. But did you know that in the process of making wine, around 20% of the grapes become a waste byproduct? Called pomace, this byproduct comprises the grape skins, seeds and stems. With approximately 1.2 kg of grapes going into every 750ml bottle, that adds up to a lot of waste. So, what can we do with it?
Make a Grape Skin Martini
Of course, utilising every part of the grape is nothing new, it’s something our ancestors have been doing for centuries. Just look at grappa for example. The northern Italian liquor is made by distilling the leftover grape pomace to create a fragrant, and pretty potent, alcohol.
Taking a leaf out of the savvy Italians’ book is Discarded Spirits, a UK brand that’s on a mission to turn food waste into conscious alcohol. One of its products includes a Chardonnay Vodka produced from a combination of grape pomace and ‘wine alcohol’, which is the excess alcohol that’s removed from some wines. Discarded says the clean crisp vodka has notes of green apple and almond croissants, and it goes perfectly into a Grape Skin Martini. The brand also produces a rum from banana skins and a sweet vermouth infused with cascara, the discarded fruit of coffee berries.
Revitalise Your Skincare Routine
And if it’s not being transformed into booze, it turns out wine waste is also great for our skin thanks to the powerful antioxidants found in grapes. The latest brand to harness this natural goodness is England based company Pelegrims. The luxe brand collaborates with Westhill Wines in Kent, using the leftover pomace from its Pinot Noir and Ortega grape harvests.
From 2020’s yield, Pelegrims has created four products: a Facial Oil, a Facial Balm, a Hand Cleanser and a Hand Pomade. The two face care products are made using the English Pinot Noir grape pomace and contain resveratrol, a polyphenol antioxidant that has proven anti-aging effects when applied to the skin. In addition to the powerful formulations, the range comes in fully recyclable packaging.
Pilgrims co-founder Alex Verier explains, “Our intention is to formulate low intervention, active skincare formulations that work in harmony with the skin supporting it to heal and rejuvenate itself. Sustainability is hugely important to us, so using waste products from the wine-making process and harnessing the powerful grape extracts are at the core of our brand and our future research. We’re looking forward to documenting our product journey in the years ahead”.
Reap The Health Benefits
Scientists have also been exploring the potential of turning wine byproducts into health-boosting food supplements. A team of researchers from The University of California, Davis analysed Chardonnay grape pomace—or ‘marc’—and discovered a load of different oligosaccharides. An oligosaccharide is a type of carbohydrate that supports intestinal health by passing undigested to the colon and promoting the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
Lead author of the study Amanda Sinrod said in a statement, “We were surprised by the diversity of the oligosaccharides in the Chardonnay wine grapes, including the presence of structural elements found in mother’s milk.”
Professor Daniela Barile added, “Up to this point, Chardonnay marc has been regarded as a byproduct of winemaking with little or no value. Early results are encouraging that marc could be a valuable source for oligosaccharides and other clongompounds that support health and nutrition.”
Go Vegan With Fashion
It tastes good, it’s good for us, and now we can even wear the byproducts of wine production thanks to Milan based company Vegea. Working with Italian vineyards, Vegea turns grape pomace into a leather-like textile that’s solvent free and animal friendly. The vegan company has already worked with high profile fashion brands such as H&M and Le Coq Sportif. The team even collaborated with Bentley in 2019 to create the car seat textiles for its EXP 100 GT model.
And Finally, Drive With It!
And on the subject of cars, French oil and gas company TotalEnergies recently announced a 100% renewable fuel for racecars called ‘Excellium Racing 100’ that’s made from wine industry byproducts. TotalEnergies says the high performance fuel will have a bioethanol base, ‘made from residues from the wine industry, such as wine lees and grape pomace’. ETBE (Ethyl Tertio Butyl Ether), another byproduct made from ethanol, will then be added to it. The fuel is said to reduce carbon emissions from racing cars by at least 65%.
TotalEnergies’ Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné said about the announcement, “Advanced biofuels have an undeniable part to play in helping the transport sector to reduce its CO2 emissions immediately. This 100% renewable fuel, that will be made available in motor racing as soon as 2022, is a perfect illustration."
Here are just five examples of how the wine waste can be given a second life. But with a little imagination and the right investment, it seems like there’s no end to the potential uses of grape pomace.