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Getting Oiled

By Art Buchwald
Thursday, March 31, 2005; Page C03

It's no secret that the price of oil is going up. But very few people have any idea what it tastes like.

Therefore, when I was invited to an oil-tasting event at my Exxon station, I accepted.

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The owner had his garage set up with tables. On the tables were gallons and barrels of oil from all over the world.

"How do you decide which one to sell?" I asked.

"In this market, we have to take what we can get. Here is a new barrel of Saudi Arabian that just arrived. It has a beautiful color and an aroma you won't find in other Middle Eastern countries."

He gave me a cup to taste.

I said: "It has a nutty taste but goes down smoothly. I think it has a lot of promise." I spit it out.

"We will age it in the barrel for another year, when the price will go up."

He continued: "Here is a Kuwait Desert Red. It can be found only in the southern part of the country. I find people with SUVs prefer it over the Libyan Beaujolais, which is mixed with a cheap Algerian product."

I took a sip, swirled it around and spit it out. "I'll take the Kuwait anytime." I then asked, "Are some years better for oil than others?"

He replied: "Of course. I would not sell an Iraqi Bordeaux while the war is going on."

"Does this mean these 2003s and 2004s are undrinkable?"

"It's not only that. The Halliburton distributor marks up every gallon three times what it's worth."

We went over to another barrel. "This is a hard-to-get Venezuelan burgundy. The oil workers had been on strike for two years and this is all we could buy."


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