About Peter Liem
Although American by nationality, I live in the Champagne region, in the town of Epernay. I am one of only a few professional wine writers to actually live in Champagne, and this proximity gives me an unusual perspective on the region, its people and its wines, especially as a foreigner who has been working with champagne for more than twenty years. It also allows me to taste more widely than I could ever do otherwise, putting me in an ideal position to write about the wines of Champagne.
My relationship with champagne began in the mid-1990s, when I was working as a wine retailer at one of San Francisco’s most prominent wine stores. I was a specialist in Burgundy, and the large portion of my days would be spent amidst the store’s assortment of hundreds of Burgundian wines. Conveniently, the champagnes were stocked directly adjacent to the Burgundy section, and at that time, we were still selling wines such as the 1979 Krug, 1979 and 1982 Salon and 1985 Cristal at very reasonable prices. I began making annual trips to Champagne in 1998, and developed relationships with people across the region, at both large négociant houses and small grower estates alike. At the end of 2006, I decided to move to the Champagne region in order to deepen my understanding of the region, living next to the vines in the village of Dizy for six years. I have since moved to the “big city” of Epernay, and while I travel a great deal, Champagne continues to be my primary residence today.
It wasn’t always my intention to become a wine writer, as my wine background is firmly based in the trade, from retail to restaurants to importing and distribution. However, I did write an online magazine called the Riesling Report with my friend Kirk Wille, from 2000 to 2002. Devoted to riesling and riesling producers around the world, it was a trailblazer of sorts in the wine press, both in terms of its specific focus and its internet-driven format. In 2004 I joined Wine & Spirits, an American wine magazine with a circulation of 80,000, working as a senior editor and wine critic, as well as the magazine’s tasting director. I started ChampagneGuide.net in 2009, and since 2011 I have been working entirely as an independent freelance writer, writing this guide as well as articles for Wine & Spirits, The World of Fine Wine, Decanter, The Art of Eating and other magazines and newspapers in the US and UK. I am also the Champagne Regional Chair for the Decanter World Wine Awards and champagne consultant to The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, and an instructor in the Wine Scholar Guild’s Champagne Master-Level Program.
In 2017 I wrote a book on champagne, published by Ten Speed Press, which won a James Beard Award and an André Simon Award, among others. I have written a book on sherry as well, together with Jesús Barquín, which was published in 2012. Together with Daniel Johnnes, I also host La Fête du Champagne, one of the world’s largest and most prominent champagne events, which takes place every year in New York City. Among other professional acknowledgements I was the premier recipient of Le Prix Terres & Vins de Champagne, and I have been awarded the rank of Officier in the Order des Coteaux de Champagne, Maître Cellérier in Les Echevins de Bouzy and Caballero de la Orden de la Solear.
When not here in Champagne, I can usually be found eating and drinking in New York City, watching Arsenal matches anywhere there’s satellite TV, or scuba diving in waters both warm and cold. I frequently conduct tastings and seminars around the world, in places as diverse as Riga, Taipei, Singapore and Seoul, and in my spare time I try to visit other wine regions whenever I am able to.