November 14th, 2008
10:53 PM ET
3 years ago

World leaders dine in style as they discuss financial crisis

Shafer Cabernet “Hillside Select” 2003 can go for as much as $500 a bottle.
Shafer Cabernet “Hillside Select” 2003 can go for as much as $500 a bottle.

(CNN) – The global economy may be undergoing a significant downturn, but the White House's dinner budget still appears flush with cash.

After all, world leaders who are in town to discuss the economic crisis are set to dine in style Friday night while sipping wine listed at nearly $500 a bottle.

According to the White House, tonight's dinner to kick off the G-20 summit includes such dishes as "Fruitwood-smoked Quail," "Thyme-roasted Rack of Lamb," and "Tomato, Fennel and Eggplant Fondue Chanterelle Jus."

To wash it all down, world leaders will be served Shafer Cabernet “Hillside Select” 2003, a wine that sells at $499 on Wine.com.

The exceedingly pricey wine may seem a bit peculiar given leaders are in Washington to discuss a possible world financial meltdown, but Sally McDonough, a spokeswoman for Laura Bush, said it "was the most appropriate wine that we had in the White House wine cellar for such a gathering.

McDonough also said the White House purchased the wine at a "significantly lower price" than what it is listed at.

"Of course the White House gets its wine at wholesale prices," she said. "Given the intimate size of the group, it was an appropriate time for The White House to use this stock."

The leaders of the U.K., France, Russia, China, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey and 11 developing economies have all come to Washington at the behest of President Bush in an effort to express confidence in the fundamental underpinnings of the world's economy.

– CNN's Becky Brittain contributed to this report


Filed under: White House
soundoff (541 Responses)
  1. DB

    Sounds "elitist" to me. I guess we can't have a Beer with Bush after all. We can't afford it. How tacky.

    November 14, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  2. Nathan

    Shafer Hillside Select is hardly a 500 dollar wine. Furthermore, the vintage is an awful one, 2003, and is probably being closed out by local distributors.

    Furthermore, the 500 dollar price is based on a 400% markup traditionally used in restaurants, not the prices that distributors are paying for the wine.

    My guess is the 03 Hillside came in around 60 bucks a bottle and may have been even less.

    November 14, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  3. Tom

    You liberals amuse me ... I am so sure that President Bush had a hand in what wine was purchased at the White House. He also MUST have had influence on the color of the carpet and in which pattern the White House lawn is mowed. Perhaps he even decides when the rain starts and stops, as well.

    Get a life and find something significant to argue about.

    Once Obama is in office, don't expect cheap wine with his dinners, either. Of course, the liberal quack media won't report that.

    November 14, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  4. hugh ~ tracy, california

    Everybody needs to believe in something, I believe I'll have another beer.

    November 14, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  5. jam

    I think instead of a stimulus package, they should send everyone in America a bottle of their finest wine. We could all get drunk together and celebrate.

    November 14, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  6. Texas Teacher

    What is this one last chance for Bush to show the world just how inept he is.... wine or no wine?

    November 14, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  7. Joe

    Serve them Bubwiser.

    Oh ya, thats not American anymore....

    November 14, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  8. mk

    What are the reporters drinking?

    November 14, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  9. Emory Grippe

    Absolutely unbelieveable, will our government and government employees ever be able to face the American people and be honest about what is happening. We are billions of dollars in debt and these leaders believe there is nothing wrong with throwing a lavish party. I do not under any circumstances feel this is necessary and find it obscene to say the least. If it were an average American having a family dinner, they would certainly not consider serving a $500.00 bottle of wine

    November 14, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  10. chuck

    This should be Bush and Cheney last chace to dine with world leaders before before they depart to the Hague for War Crimes TRIAL.

    November 14, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  11. Emory Grippe

    Absolutely unbelieveable, will our government and government employees ever be able to face the American people and be honest about what is happening. We are billions of dollars in debt and these leaders believe there is nothing wrong with throwing a lavish party. I do not under any circumstances feel this is necessary and find it obscene to say the least. If it were an average American having a family dinner, they would certainly not consider serving a $500.00 bottle of wine much less think about it. When will the American people wake up and demand better of our leaders.

    November 14, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  12. i love cnn

    Wow you douchebags...way to slant this. Not like it's sensationalism or anything. You can get this wine easily for <$250. Retail. Way to pick the highest amount and run with it. According to you, perhaps Dubya should serve them Two Buck Chuck instead? Would that be more fiscally responsible?

    Maybe when you're done sitting on your thumb you can check your facts – though with this article I suppose you're appealing to the vast majority of Americans, who are also morons.

    November 14, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  13. om

    Becky Brittain does not have anything else to do? She should take a chill. For God sake it's White House. It's like the top house of the world. American's are not cheap, we know little quality

    November 14, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  14. The Real Issue

    This is the same Administration and party which indicated that the economy was fundamentally in good shape. Also, this administration didn't even think of main street when they requested the $700B to bail out Wall Street. This administration has jumped from situation to situation regarding the investment of this $700B if it is invested properly. Our stock market would never know it as much as it goes up and down. And nothing has been done to stop the spending by AIG and some of the other banks, after all they look at the money as a direct surge of new dollars to spend.

    November 14, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  15. RBG

    They should be wined and dined... $500 is nothing in the grand scheme of things... write better articles. Stop wasting our reading time.

    November 14, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  16. Dick Cabesa

    I have always thought that the first family should not live like royalty and that the perks of the white house are beyond extravagent and a waste of taxpayers money

    November 14, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  17. Peter (CA)

    For those of you right wingers who keep complaining about the Obama supporters still being angry, I give you....Deep in Thought who is ready to throw Obama out before he gets in. Well of course he is using experienced people in his cabinet, if he didn't the mistakes could be serious and then we would have to listen to you complain about that.

    Deep in thought.....looks like you're in the shallow end.

    November 14, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  18. Polly

    These people probably drink as a lifestyle...it's nothing to them...just another celebration.

    November 14, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  19. Emory Grippe

    This is exactly the issue everyone is talking about, big spending by people using taxpayers money, then taxpayers having to bail them out, sad but this b.s. is never ending and will never end under the current crop of no gooders we have in Washington. I wonder how the American public and stay so complacent and make statements like, "no big deal", this is not an issue etc. etc. Where is the vasoline folks?

    November 14, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  20. Arthur, winesooth

    Seriously, folks, this is not a case of callous and insulated-from-reality bourgeois quaffing delicate elixirs while the streets burn. This is a diplomatic dinner with foreign dignitaries. The White House *should* serve elegant foods and wines that showcase the finer side of American culture – no matter the topic discussed."

    November 14, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  21. Butch Dillon

    It pains the imagination that they could not show just a little restraint, knowing that we lesser types are being forced into an entirely different level of belt tightening. What's that I hear: "Let them eat cake"?

    November 14, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  22. Bob

    If there was ever signs of liberal bashing of Republicans, this is it. You can find more expensive bottles of wine in any very good restaurant, and something like this is TOTALLY okay to serve world leaders, for pete's sake.

    You people that are ranting on about how wrong this is need to shut it. If St. Obama was serving this, and anybody criticized him for it, you'd be all over their case about how it's an important group, it's not unreasonable, blah blah blah. Take a chill pill and try to relax for another couple of months until he's in power, please.

    November 14, 2008 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  23. BC

    BFD....the LEADERS of 20 countries ate well and drank expensive alcohol??? Who in their right mind would care about this let alone expect anything less? Were they supposed to get a bucket of chicken from KFC?

    November 14, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  24. mitch

    uuuummmmmm!yummmyyyyy! we're having toast w/gravy this week. hell,they aint muchh meat on a quail anyhow. oh yeah.... i'm drinkin' generic beer,too. i think it would say something better to the poor of the world, if they'd at least cut it back to an old-fashioned american BBQ and buffet. everybody bring sumthin',you know? wash it down with some jack daniel's, smoke a big blunt,and figure out some ways to make some money in this new century. something fair, that includes the less fortunate in the world.

    November 14, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  25. Mes

    If you believe these leaders to be performing a great civic service to the people they are representing faithfully and dilligently whereever they come from, then it would seem that a $500 wine and excellent dinner are just rewards for their service and serve to encourage them to continue doing so. If your leaders aren't really looking out for you, then it would seem that you are wasting your money or are being fooled...

    November 14, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
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