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

World leaders dine in style as they discuss financial crisis

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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

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. your average girl

    oh come on! does that mean the president and the world leaders should eat $1 McDonald's meals in order to save money?

    we need to focus on the FOREST, not the trees.

    November 14, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  2. Frances

    Well, what do we expect when Obama is going to spend $1 Million on his inauguration? 'Change," my behind! And I voted for him! I wonder how many families would not have faced foreclosure in the month of October if Obama and McCain had spent a reasonable amt of money on their campaigns and given the rest away to US citizens in dire need.

    November 14, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  3. Tim

    To quote Mel Brooks, "It's good to be the King."

    November 14, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  4. Anonymous in Texas

    How nice. And to think, I just told my family that I could not afford to take them out to dinner and we ended up having tuna sandwiches instead. Bon appetit, monsieur President and world leaders!!!

    November 14, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  5. I believe it

    Yes, lets complain about this while real issues are being discussed. Please.

    I bet you'd rather them server some of the most powerful men/women in the world Blue Nun? Really?!

    November 14, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  6. Polly

    As long as they are still eating off of Lenox china, which is made in the USA...

    November 14, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  7. Les Savran

    Instead of "Let them eat cake," 'W.' can say "Let them drink Ripple."

    One of the main causes of the financial meltdown we find ourselves in is self-indulgent consumption at all rungs of the socio-economic ladder. At the top CEOs with obscene pay packages, in the middle gas guzzling SUVs and at the bottom homes and life styles that didn't match pay scales.

    The office of the President can be at its best when it leads by example. In a pattern that sadly has become a template for the Bush W.H., 'W.' has led by showing us how not to act...feed your face while talking about helping people cope with financial crisis.

    Think about what kind of message would have been sent if someone had the common sense to tone down the menu. One more missed opportunity.

    November 14, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  8. Scott in Portland

    I think alcohol is a REQUIREMENT for discussing the economy that Bush has created! Lots of It!!

    November 14, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  9. shane Hood

    I see nothing wrong with this.

    November 14, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  10. Dan

    This is NOT an excuse for what appears to be wretched excess, but reporting should be accurate. This wine is sold in the usual 750ml bottles, but also in 1.5 and 3 liter bottles. A quick check of showed that the $499 price was for a 1.5 liter bottle, twice the size of what most of us buy. Even so, I will likely never taste a wine like this, but I also will likely never have to send citizens to die or make decisions that affect the lives of millions. I'd much rather have the wine served to elected world leaders than execs who reap multi-million dollar bonuses while my own investments in their products are in the tank.

    Alexander, get your facts straight and report them properly.

    November 14, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  11. Tennisguypitt

    Who cares? They worked hard to become leaders.

    November 14, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  12. Does not drink!

    I hope the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Turkey (and other Muslims in the group) do not drink alcohol and will settle for tea or coffee. That would save the world economy from collapse!

    November 14, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  13. Angie

    You forgot Jimmy Carter. His hobby is wine making and his wines go for up to $4,000 per bottle at charity auctions. Now that would be excessive.

    November 14, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  14. Rick

    I guess the world leaders are supposed to drink colt 45 and have ramen noodles?1 $500 is not too ridiculous.

    November 14, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  15. Vincent

    What a Joke!
    Where are our shares of stock from all the companies WE bailed out?????
    We all should be getting shares of stock equal to the amount of money we are paying for the "bail out".
    Write your congress person.

    November 14, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  16. No Hillary = No Obama

    The ecomony doesn't effect George Bush personally, never has – he was born with a silver pacifer in his mouth and when he leaves office it still won't affect him – it will never affect him. So what does he care if a bottle costs 500.00 or 5,000 dollars.

    November 14, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  17. JKT

    @Jonathan O'Brien: On what basis whatsoever do you claim this wine was provided free or at cost? That is beyond silly. Most suppliers double their prices when they hear the government is the buyer because they know the government will pay inflated costs. That's where the term "Beltway Bandits" comes from. Do not defend Bush by making up extremely lame rationalizations.

    November 14, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  18. Steve Evans

    Relax a bit. The wine wasn't purchased for this occasion – it was already in the White House cellars. The money was spent some time ago. As a result there is no additional expenditure for this dinner. As some else pointed out the pricing is specious at best. is seldom the lowest price offering...

    November 14, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  19. Ezra

    A broken economy does not give everybody license to sport a poverty spirit. Life goes on, we cannot make every little thing into such great news. Where is Chicken Licken. The sky is fallen. World leaders are drinking old wine from the barrel under the cellar. These leaders earn a good drink now and then, and somebody has to pay. So why not? We are still in a better position than some of them are.


    November 14, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  20. Michael

    Thomas Jefferson was the first president to start the wine drinking at the White House trend, building large cellars that stored up to 20,000 bottles. He also had a taste for only the best. It was President Johnson who began the excellent policy of only serving US wines. An interesting choice was made by President Reagan, who served an Hawaiin sparkling wine made from pineapple at a state function. I suspect, though, that wines of quality like this one are more the norm (with apologies to the good folk of Hawaii).

    November 14, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  21. stevei

    while republicans complain about food stamps for families and set up every value judgement based road block they can for families needing help they lavish themselves with luxuries and bail out their irresponsible corporate buddies. liars and cheats, they disgust me

    November 14, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  22. Peter Doell

    Leave it to the Bushies to serve an inferior vintage like the 2003.

    November 14, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  23. Andy

    If the white house can buy wine at wholesale can they set up a website and sell at retail? I'd start buying wine from the white house if it meant my 401k would come back to life...

    November 14, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  24. JACKIE

    For God;s sake this is a going away it what it is...If Bush really cared he would not serve $500/bottle wine..What a selfish loser....

    November 14, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  25. Dubbed

    Did someone said let's get rid of the pork?

    November 14, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
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