Washington, D.C. is a great place to shop for olive oil. Why? The secret is in the wine shops.

In most cities, a retailer of alcoholic beverages must buy all of his products from the wholesaler within the state. Washington, D.C., is one of the few places in the country where a liquor retailer is allowed to buy from anyone, anywhere, thus making it the most interesting wine market in the country.

Because there is so much direct importation to Washington, those wine stores that buy wine directly from European growers (especially Tuscany) will ask the vintners to ship a little of their olive oil along with the wine. Olive trees are traditionally planted between vine rows in Tuscan vineyards. Thus, imported olive oil costs virtually nothing to ship.

So the factors that make Washington one of the country's best wine markets also make it one the the best olive oil markets. Those who are seeking the best extra virgin olive oils will do will to check with their local liquor store to see what goodies it might yield; keeping in mind that if the merchant cares about the wine he sells he will care about the oil -each will be of the same quality.

The chart above represents olive oils that are in national distribution. Those olive oils sold only in Washington were not included -for those you have to conduct your own treasure hunt.

To organize a tasting follow our lead in the above article.