Buying and tasting fruit of the vine is her passion

CONNOISSEUR: Carolyn Barton's job is to make sure Makro has the best wines on offer. Pic. Jeremy Glyn. © FM.
CONNOISSEUR: Carolyn Barton's job is to make sure Makro has the best wines on offer. Pic. Jeremy Glyn. © FM.

What is the most interesting aspect of our job?

I love working with all the wine producers. They are all so passionate about what they do, it's infectious.

Being a big buyer for a large retailer, do you get to travel a lot to source new trends and meet with manufacturers?

I do travel to the Cape as often as I can to see what the wineries are up to, but not overseas. Reading international liquor and wine magazines helps me keep up to date with what's happening in other markets.

What is the process involved inselecting wine?

Our team of wine consultants and I meet regularly as a panel to taste new wines and review existing listings to ensure that Makro offers the best range at the best prices to our customers. The only way to truly ascertain this is by tasting. But we can only accommodate a finite number of wines on our shelves, so any new listings must fit into the range and physically there must be space in-store to accommodate them.

What kind of training goes into your selecting?

Tasting training is important and the tasting panel and I have all attended courses at the Cape Wine Academy, combined with a number of years of wine industry experience. I have also attended the Wine Tasting Academy run by the UCT Graduate School of Business and Wine Magazine, as well as judging on a handful of competitions.

Where does most of the wine you buy come from?

Ninety-nine percent of the wine that Makro sells is South African. We also stock a good range of Champagne, a tiny range of imported wines and some Portuguese ports.

Is wine tasting a hobby of yours?

I love wine and only drink wine at home or when out with family and friends. I get plenty of opportunity to taste wines, so I'm not a member of a wine-tasting group.

Is your choice of what wine to buy solely based on the popularity of the wine?

This is important for a listing to be retained. We list lots of new wines that are superb in quality, but unfortunately some of them just don't sell. If the sales don't warrant the shelf space, they have to be delisted.

How often do you have to buy new wines for the Makro outlets?

I am constantly reviewing the range to make space for new wines.

When you go on wine tastings do you spit or swallow?

I generally spit, but if the wine is awesome, I swallow a bit!

What is your most embarrassing wine-related moment?

Thankfully I don't remember it.

What is your favourite wine?

I really don't have a favourite and have learnt to appreciate all styles.