November 14th, 2008
10:53 PM ET
4 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. Eric

    All I can say is who was the genius that wrote this article!? The leader of the free world serves fine wine to visiting world leaders...oh dear!! What would you suggest as an alternitive herr Pennypincher??? McFlurries for everyone!! I think there are some empty pop cans in a park garbage can with your name on them.

    November 14, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  2. ROGER MARIN

    A SUGGESTION– OR RATHER TWO – LET THE BILL FOR THIS FIESTA BE SENT TO- A) ALL THE DODOS WHO APPROVE OF SUCH AN EXPENDITURE -- OR 2) TO ALL THOSE PARTAKING AND WITH A NET WORTH OF 10 MILLION OR MORE (PROBABLY ALL OF THEM)

    November 14, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  3. Tony Lice Pigg

    nathan you are incorrect – the wine retails for over 200 bucks a bottle – stop trying to justify bush and his administration's excesses.

    TLP

    November 14, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  4. lisa

    okay, i am not a bush fan at all, but really, this is a crazy thing to get upset about. it's already in the cellar it would be a shame for it to sit there and go bad. it's a u.s. wine, so at least they are supporting the "local economy". i am not at all upset about this, you know they say pick your battles....i'd rather have had the bush administration sipping away on $500/bottle wine for 8 years and NOT have started a needless war....among other policy disasters.

    November 14, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  5. 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.If when sober Bush makes a mess of the ENGLISH language could you imagine when he's had a few pints and some Ban cuban CIGARS?

    November 14, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  6. Barbara

    give me a break! when will you media guys GET it..I suppose not until the general population just stops listening.

    this is not a big deal...a nonissue...the end.

    I wonder if we could get the various branches of the media together and encourage them to do a 90 day moratorium on "sad news, bad news"....if we might just see a huge turn around???

    worth a shot

    November 14, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  7. Phillip

    Now that everybody is trying to get a piece of the $700 billion dollars, maybe we as americans can get some of it to. We should all send a letter to Paulson, asking for our share. Then we can bail ourselfs out> What do you say AMERICA

    November 14, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  8. Ryan

    I think we should be picking apart every "luxury" item these companies are sucking up while getting by on our money. No blaming this on Bush folks. This is all Pelosi and the Dems at work. Now they want to throw another 50 billion at a mismanaged and ineffecient auto industry.

    November 14, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  9. Joe Black

    Now you can see why the US is in this kind of shape. What's wrong with Dago Red? $1.00 a bottle.

    November 14, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  10. Tom

    You don't serve heads of state a $10 table wine. The whole point is that you show them respect and hospitality while you host them in your country. This is a very stupid article.

    November 14, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  11. Perusing-Through

    $500.00 PER SINGLE WINE BOTTLE IS . . . .

    . . . no problem if it will grease the gears of bank credit to loan aspirants.
    . . . no problem if it will restore the 1.2-million jobs lost in 2008, and restore additional 3.1-million highly qualified people and college graduates still looking from 2007 and beyond.
    . . . no problem if it will reverse the current recession and economic meltdown.
    . . . no problems if it will reverse the disasters of home foreclosures and put all tax-paying homeowners back in their homes,
    . . . no problem if it will raise my 401K to August levels, along with my stock investments and pension plan,
    . . . no problem if it takes the national debt back to the January 20, 2000 "surplus level" when W-Bush first sworn for POTUS.

    November 14, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  12. bram

    what a nonsense. the money the Bushes spend on that wine didn't disappear into thin air. Now other people have the $500. the winemaker the wine distributor the wine delivery-man. and they will all spend their money one cheaper bottles of wine etc etc. they might even donate some to a good cause.

    November 14, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  13. Mike from Buffalo

    Becky...do your homework! A simple google search would have shown you this wine could be had for half of what you reported. And thats retail! Poor story.

    November 14, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  14. ale biglio

    ehm...evidently people don't understand how wines work. first this is wine that is sold definitely at lower prices almost everywhere, then there is the concrete possibility that like every good cellar the white house buys wine in time and let it sit there for years till the occasion arises.
    so i bet my shirt that this wine was maybe bought even in 2004 at probably 65-85 dollars a bottle, maybe lower since for sure they bought wholesale and in quantity (or do you think they will serve only one bottle? i really think it's a non issue, especially since you are having those guests you want to take out your best.

    November 14, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  15. matt

    The Hillside Select is currently available for $200 per bottle and that's at retail pricing. The 2003, while still too young to drink in my opinion, is also not a great Napa vintage so likely would have been available for less directly from Shafer upon release.

    While I don't support the Bush administration, not only do I applaud the fact they only serve US wines, but am also amazed that this relatively average wine is what they serve to world leaders. I would have expected Harlen Estate or Screaming Eagle to grace the table.

    This could have been the worst reporting that CNN has done.

    November 14, 2008 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  16. Geohudd

    This is a stupid story......are they supposed to serve McDonald's and boxed wine? I have a lot larger concerns regarding out of control government spending than that of the White House catering crew. I think the media does do a good job of drawing attention to some overspending in Washington, but this story is bit of a reach.

    November 14, 2008 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  17. Lisa

    So nice to know that while I and many others struggle to pay our bills, or receive medical care (I'm uninsured), Bush feels that it's appropriate to serve wine that costs almost $500 a bottle. That is how much I have to pay for a spinal injection to ease my pain. It's also a more than a month's worth of groceries to feed my family!!!!!!

    November 14, 2008 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  18. GA for Obama

    Farrell, Houston, Tx- Saudis don't drink wine..they're muslims

    November 14, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  19. adams40502

    And Mexico and Canada are not invited?

    November 14, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  20. ROGER MARIN

    NATHAN– BEFORE POSTING YOU SHOULD TAKE THE TIME TO GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT – THIS VINTAGE WINE SELLS FOR 250.00 (BY THE CASE) AND UP ON THE INTERNET–FURTHERMORE IT IS NOT AN "AWFUL" WINE–EVEN THOUGH I WOULDN'T PUT IT PAST OUR "LEADERS" TO PAY 500.00 FOR AN AWFUL VINTAGE

    November 14, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  21. thomas

    Would the American justice system ever have the kahooneys to send a president to prison?

    November 14, 2008 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  22. strong

    No surprise. $500.00 wine! What did you expect? Nothing ever changes. Get used to it.

    November 14, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  23. not news

    This is not newsworthy. I encourage all who think this is a Bush only thing to check back for President-elect Obama's gatherings over the next year. You will see the same thing. Politicians in general feel they are entitled, which is the way many feel. We are entitled to this and that. The gov. owes us this and that. No they don't. Work hard, take care of yourself and your family, give to the charities you want to, pay your fair shar of taxes (i don't want to pay for those too lazy to get a job because they make more on welfare) and save some for later. You are not "owed" anything.

    November 14, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  24. Sam

    I wonder who pays for their luxury....................... Our tax money at work people.

    November 14, 2008 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  25. carl

    On every blog I've been on, I've brought up something
    about the government and how it's spending relates to
    the economic crisis, but nobody else wants to go there.
    Why?

    November 14, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
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