The fruit of the vine, from its raw form to recovered waste
Whether freshly picked, dried, juiced or made into wine, we enjoy grapes in many different forms throughout the day. But grapes are an even more valuable and versatile resource than we realise. If we told you that it could be used as fuel or leather in the textile industry, would you believe it?
Let's dive into the world of the vine and discover the many ways in which grapes can be consumed, from the most obvious to the most original!
Using grapes in our daily lives
Bacchus in the kitchen
6,000 years ago, grapes were already consumed in their original form. Little by little, human beings, WE, have discovered the potential of this fruit. It can be enjoyed in many different forms: in juice, in wine, in jam, in clusters or dried, etc. As much appreciated by pastry chefs as by star chefs, grapes go perfectly with savoury dishes such as tajine or foie gras, or sweet ones such as rum baba. It will delight the palate of those with a sweet and sour taste.
As a starter or dessert, for breakfast or as an aperitif, in shades of red, white, yellow, pink or purple, the ways to enjoy it are endless!
Although the flesh is the most common, the seeds and the leaf also have a special place in our gastronomy. Grape seed oil is an excellent alternative to other cooking oils, low in saturated fatty acids and rich in unsaturated fatty acids. Vine leaf is particularly used in Turkish and Greek cuisine. Once wrapped, the food takes on a tangy flavour during cooking.
From grapes to cosmetics
A source of fibre, rich in antioxidants, vitamin B, potassium and iron, grapes have many nutritional virtues. Its consumption is said to have positive effects on the prevention of cardiovascular disease by improving the antioxidant capacity of the blood and lowering cholesterol levels. Its virtues can also be found in cosmetics. The French brand Caudalie has made vinotherapy its speciality. The company offers a wide range of cosmetic products made from grape seeds, vine shoots and vine sap. These three active substances help to care for the skin and fight against ageing.
You can even adopt homemade cosmetics made from grapes. Once you have centrifuged the grapes, all you have to do is mix the pulp and seeds with a spoonful of honey. You will then obtain a granular texture perfect for a scrub. You will be seduced by the smell of this treatment. Don't forget to choose organic grapes, it's always better!
Red wine vinegar, the star of household products
Red vinegar is obtained from the fermentation of wine. You can trust it to remove limescale from your taps, coffee machine, kettle and bath. All you have to do is dilute a few drops in hot water, pour the liquid over the area to be cleaned and wait a few minutes. The magic happens! You'll give your home a real facelift while respecting the environment. It is an excellent alternative to chemical products whose fumes add to the ambient pollution. No aerosol cans, no chlorine pollution of the water and above all you preserve your health by not breathing in any toxic products.
Wine vinegar is also very effective in shining up your dishes and gives your stemware and silverware a new lease of life. It's just another string to its bow!
Grapes and the circular economy
Grape marc, the new leather
Every year, after the harvest, the grapes are pressed to extract the liquid which is then served as juice, sparkling wine or wine. The grape marc, consisting of the skins, seeds and other residues, is then often thrown away. What a waste! In fact, it is a real treasure. A handful of entrepreneurs and individuals have stopped seeing it as waste and have realised that it is an extremely valuable resource. At Zetathis is how we see it: a waste product from a first manufacturing process, but once recycled, it becomes a perfectly usable material.
We are not the only ones on the market. You may have heard of Vegea in Italy? This brand recovers the residue of the grapes and the skin of the grape to make leather that we will use on our shoes. Their leather is not only intended for the fashion sector, but also for decoration and the automobile industry. The ambition is great and the future full of beautiful promises for vegan leather.
Still not convinced? Well, it has nothing but positive points. As durable and aesthetic as animal leather, this vegetable-based material is much more environmentally and worker friendly than the classic version.
For those who like to do it themselves, vegetable dyeing, based on red grapes, allows you to reduce waste while dyeing a garment in a natural way. The pigments in these will allow you to customise any piece of your wardrobe.
From grape to vine, an eternal restart
Some winegrowers have also decided to recycle the pomace they used to throw away. Once the pomace has been deseeded, it can now be used as fertiliser for the vines that will produce the next harvest. This compost improves the level of organic matter in the soil while providing mineral elements that plants love. The quality-price ratio is unbeatable. This new generation fertiliser, used on a large scale, would enable the wine sector to become one of the leaders in terms of the circular economy. Grape marc still has some nice surprises in store for us. Indeed, it could immunise plants against the attacks of several diseases by provoking a self-defence reaction. It also has a photo-protective action. This would lead to a drastic reduction in the use of pesticides in vineyards and fields.
One vineyard, hundreds of opportunities
A great deal of research and development work is being done to make use of this waste product. Some vehicles now run on bioethanol, obtained from the distillation of wine residues. Even taking into account the emissions linked to the production of this biofuel, it would represent a reduction of more than 85% in greenhouse gas emissions compared to diesel. As of 2019, the Gard department had authorised the introduction of buses using bioethanol from grape marc. Charente-Maritime, Montpellier and Bordeaux soon followed suit.
Researchers at an American university have recently invented a process to recycle vineyard waste into an environmentally friendly additive to reduce the environmental impact of the road salts used to thaw the road. Road salts are very harmful to the environment, damaging infrastructure and contaminating water by leaching into rivers and groundwater. Incorporating grape skins, transformed into a non-toxic chemical solution, into road salts would significantly reduce their use. Further proof that the circular economy is taking over the wine industry, the company Nomacorc should soon be offering corks made from grape marc for sale.
Consumed by billions of people around the world in solid or liquid form. Emblem of French know-how. A model for the circular economy in a world where our environmental awareness is growing. Popular in gastronomy for its taste and virtues, used in cosmetics for its anti-ageing properties. What other fruit could boast such a record?
For more details on vegetable leather, based on grape marc, see our article on the subject: lhat is grape leather? ?
Written by Pauline Bercon