There would be little point denying that the poor global economic climate was the major story of 2009 across all drinks sectors. In spirits, US market growth for the major players Diageo and Pernod Ricard had started to slow before 2008 had ended. In wine, we heard that Australian wine exports had fallen in value terms during 2008 for the first time in 15 years; and that US domestic wine sales saw the first annual fall since the last major recession in 1993. In beer, Diageo shelved plans to build a new brewery for its Guinness brand in Ireland, whilst in soft drinks, the story of the year has arguably been the takeover by PepsiCo of its two major bottlers. just-drinks' leading writers round-up a tumultuous year in this month's briefing.