Fosters' A$3.2 billion takeover of Southcorp - now virtually assured with its sweetened bid - gives the brewing and wine group unassailable dominance of the Australian liquor market and further emphasises the distortion of the wine industry.

Fosters' chief executive Trevor O'Hoy says one in every two alcoholic drinks consumed in Australia will be a Foster's brand. About 35% of every dollar spent at wholesale level or in bars will end up in Foster's coffers when beers such as top selling VB are factored in.

The takeover is the latest and biggest of industry upheavals and followed Constellation Brands' A$1.4 billion purchase of BRL Hardy in 2003 and Fosters' own A$1.5 billion acquisition of Beringer in 2000.

Pernod Ricard's potential takeover of Allied Domecq will also have an indirect impact since the French group will have wider markets for its Australian Jacob's Creek and Wyndham brands.

The big three as they will now be known have about 65% of the national vintage. Although the second rank wine producers such as Casella and McGuigan Simeon are substantial in Australian terms, they are well behind the big three and behind them are more than 1800 other wineries, the majority crushing less than 100 tonnes.