Google Ngram Viewer traces online wine history

There's a new online wine tool, courtesy of Google, that provides some intriguing insight into how widely the beverage has been discussed over the years - and over the centuries, in fact.

Google Ngram Viewer can actually search for mentions of any word or phrase in the Google Books archive, dating back to 1500 - roughly five million books in all - and reaching up to as recently as 2008.

With this new tool at its disposal, industry analyst Wine Intelligence wasted no time in comparing mentions of 'wine culture' to 'beer culture', and found certain historical events sparked widespread discussion in literature.

For instance, in 1860, Gladstone's reform of UK wine duty may have helped to trigger a large rise in mentions of 'wine culture' in literature.

Around the same time, US states were beginning to produce wine in greater quantities, and with 34 US states involved in production, American English mentions of 'wine culture' also increased.

Mentions have been steadily increasing since 2000, and access to Google Books has further increased the amount of online wine literature.

Wine Intelligence notes that 'beer culture' has also been rising in popularity in the 21st century - and says the coming decade will be an interesting period for literary mentions of wine and beer alike.