The one shared with good friends

Serge Pillot knows everything there is to know about wine. And as the co-owner of Domaine Parpalhòl in France’s famous Languedoc region, he ought to. The Parpalhòl estate spans 30 hectares and features vines aged between 20 and 30 years. Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are grown for red, while Chardonnay, Marsanne, Viognier, Sauvignon and Colombard supply the whites. Sustainable agriculture is at the heart of Serge and his partner Jean-Marie’s production at Domaine Parpalhòl and that involves harvesting at 3am to collect the firmest, freshest grapes.

Serge spends his winters in Morzine, where he has lived for many years. His Alpine Wine Tasting Club events bring his extensive knowledge of wine directly into your holiday accommodation and sessions are the perfect alternative to apres-ski in a busy bar. Serge delivers a fascinating insight into the world of wines and you absolutely do not need to be an expert yourself to enjoy these events; there’s wine after all! But first, Serge is here to answer the questions you were almost too embarrassed to ask about wine…

What are the characteristics of local wines and which are your favourites?

For any wine region, it’s essential to talk about climate. The Alps have always been a cool climate and so are more adapted for white wines. However, with recent climate changes, this is affecting the production too and the region now offers nice red wines these days! I love the white grape Gringet from Ayze, close to Bonneville and wines from Marin, a village right above Thonon on the shores of Lake Geneva.

What makes red wine red? And white wines white?And rosé wine rosé?

Except in very rare grape varieties, grape juice is always white, just press a red grape at home and you’ll see. Pigments called anthocyanes are present in many fruits and also in red grapes, so only contact between skin colour and the grape juice colors the wine. Rosé wine is the result of red grapes being pressed and the grape juice being in contact with the red skins for between 24 and 26 hours. That’s compared to between 20 and 30 days to create red wines. Consequently, white wine has no skin contact at all.

Which wine causes the worst hangover?

Probably the one you drink most of…?! More seriously, headaches are generally caused by high sulphate levels and poor quality wines. I recommend organic wines, they really are very good for you… !

How long should you keep a bottle of wine once you’ve opened it?

What a strange question, I imagined all opened bottles were finished rather quickly !
Re-corked, I would suggest a couple of days maximum. I recommend an air pump to reseal a bottle once it’s been opened (they’re very easy to find in shops) and they’ll help to keep an open bottle tasting great for a week, easily.

Is it OK to add ice to wine?

First of all, if you need to add ice to your wine, it probably means you are not serving it at the right temperature. Secondly, as a wine producer that works hard all year round, paying attention to grape culture and every single detail involved in winemaking, I admit I find it very hard to see people diluting wine with ice.

How do you feel about wine in boxes?

The bag in box market is huge these days, a lot of producers pay a lot of attention to offering high quality wines for the ever-expanding market. But obviously, just as with bottled wine, there can be some poor ones. I guess if it suits certain people to drink wine from a bag rather than a bottle, I’m happy with that, it is surely convenient. But it will never match a wine in bottle for sure.

Do you imagine that an English wine will ever make an appearance on a French wine list?

I’m pretty sure it is the case already and it should rightly be so! I experienced an English fizzy a while ago called Nyetimber from Kent, that was absolutely stunning. For red wine however, it will take a while and the right climate conditions, but there are indeed many talented winemakers in the UK.

Which local restaurants offer the best house wines, in your view?

I haven’t experienced all Morzine restaurants, but La Chaudanne has an extensive and complete wine list, I enjoyed the wine list at the new Le PassionNant restaurant also. Most restaurants in les Lindarets in the Avoriaz sector also have interesting wine selections too. Clearly, every place that list my wines has the edge.

Is French wine your favourite? If not, which is your country of preference…?

That’s a tricky question, France is surely the producing country that I know the most about and that has probably the widest offering, but could I honestly ignore countries like Italy, Spain or New Zealand? The fascinating thing about the wine world is that you’ll always discover new gems every time. Greece, Uruguay, Germany, it’s a never ending story. But always remember the best wine in the world is always the one shared with good friends and with a smile on your face. Nothing beats that!

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To book a lively, informative wine tasting event during your winter holiday, you can call Serge on +33 (0) 6 83 12 92 10 or email Follow Serge’s adventures in wine over on Instagram @alpinewinetastingclub or on Facebook – The Alpine Wine Tasting Club

The one shared with good friends
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