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. Michael Amos

    These people are elected officials, not royalty! Who holds these morons accountable?

    November 14, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  2. OBAMA 4 President

    Well, we all know Bush wants to bankrupt everything to create a legacy never known in the history of mankind.

    He has a CHILD'S brain, let him do to his hearts content.

    Brighter days are coming!

    November 14, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  3. liz

    Oh common! this is not news. everybody wants to have the best in life. If I am a king I will sure live as one. wait! may be the president should make the white house a tourist center and move to a cheaper house with less staff, that way the country will generate money.
    stop hating.

    November 14, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  4. David Schneider

    Regarding the Independent white female patriotic voter. Not angry at your comment just curious about it since the reason the world is such a mess is that people cling to rituals, belief systems etc. Because world leaders gorge themselves like pigs while people starve in far off places where they come from is no reason to support them in their feeble attempts to make the world a better place.

    It is time that the mandate the American people finally arrived at electing Mr. Obama is observed and enforced by the American people. Not the government. I would not look to governments or world leaders to solve our problems. They are a reflection of the people. But as I look at the new president and his family I see for the first time in 53 years hope. A man has arrived who had to truly struggle. It is not a made up fantasy of Mr. Obama's life like many of the leaders before him by some spin-doctor.

    I think he would argue with your comment that maybe a change in policy of how to entertain world leaders might be in order. They are supposed to be leading not chowing down. The politicians these days are so arrogant that maybe it is time for independent watchdogs to get more power to see what they spend on.

    Next year when we enter a depression it might be well to remember that the world leaders have not done much to prevent it. They were too busy jet setting around palling with celebrities and in many cases filling up their bank accounts. I would not look to them for solutions.

    Mr. Obama asked his volunteers to brown bag it for lunch and use public transport to his campaign headquarters. How refreshing. A man who has a plan.

    I think the White House should use up all their wine and then not order any more. Why let world leaders drink on our dime? Let them drink on their own time not America’s. How arrogant and self centered these dinners and talks are.

    In China they are executing corrupt bankers and politicians. Seems to work. I don’t think Mr. Obama would do this but maybe he as he uncovers all the corruption of Wall Street and the other business men he might consider using Gitmo for them now.

    November 14, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  5. Lani in Los Angeles

    I suppose they should serve Welch's grapejuice instead???

    It would be an insult to treat our guest s(world leaders) any different.

    If AIG can send salespeople to a SPA with taxpayers money, we should treat world leaders appropriately.

    November 14, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  6. Tim

    In your faces, peasants....Bush's attitude will never change.

    November 14, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  7. louishenry

    1. Saudi Arabia and Turkey are largely Islamic countries which do not allow alcohol. Isn't serving wine an insult to them?
    2. Again the average Joe-tax payer picks up the bill. Can't the White House get a corperate sponsor?

    November 14, 2008 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  8. Robert

    Sweet tea, anyone??? Maybe with some lemon???

    Too easy, I know.

    November 14, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  9. voter

    isn't this rich. While the rest of us in main street are struggling to make ends meet, the goverment is spending $500 worth in wine. No wonder the country is going through an economic depression.

    November 14, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  10. TheGateKeeper

    Well isn't that just ducky !!!

    November 14, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  11. Mike, Albany

    Even if this is not really news and even if it's protocol to treat world leaders in high style, this would have been a good time for a symbolic gesture with some prudent frugality. Instead, they chose to rub our noses in it.

    November 14, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  12. Jeff

    All you defenders of the White House spending $500 for a bottle of wine are crazy. Sure, you can be hospitable and treat your guests, but what's wrong with a $50 bottle of wine? Is a $500 bottle ten times the enjoyment of a $50 bottle? You can treat your guests well without paying outrageous "sucker" prices. I bet you'd even defend them for a $500,000 bottle of wine, wouldn't you? You all must be filthy rich.

    November 14, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  13. Jean, Indiana

    You don't think they'd leave it for Obama, do you?

    November 14, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  14. tom

    i for one hope that when all the rich and republicans get to the after life they get what bad is comeing to grandpa always said he never met anybody that made over a million dollars a year that he would see in heaven.

    November 14, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  15. Polly

    Obviously, they won't be serving pork or beef

    November 14, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  16. Jakob

    It is a sign of genuine depression when this kind of thing becomes news. Grow up, please. Better futures are not built on bitterness. Use your 1st ammendment rights for something useful.

    November 14, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  17. abraxis

    Gee, and just think of the millions of people who are unemployed and have lost their homes. Of course, we have to show the foreign dignitaries that we still have some money. Wait, that is the tax payers' money isn't it?

    Just to show that money in the hands of an idiot still makes that idiot and idiot. I can't wait until that village in Texas reclaims its idiot!

    November 14, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  18. yockintampa

    This is EXACTLY the problem, reguardless of party affiliation. Yet I hear hte House members screaming about the legitimate AIG abuses of our tax dollars. I really am coming to the conclusion that Washington is all B.S. artists who are total hypocrits. When will we all decided to get rid of them all and start all over again before it is too late?

    November 14, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  19. Cynthia; Bham

    Gosh wine that is $499.99 a bottle – that is almost as much as the stimulus package that they sent us earlier in the year. Couldn't they have drank some cheaper wine and let the savings be the start of a new stimulus package for all those people who have lost their jobs.

    November 14, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  20. Lady in GA


    November 14, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  21. Paul J. Edwards

    Hey Pat Burnett,
    I saw this wine on the net for 400 bucks 750ml. This was the first hit so it's not unreasonable.

    Let them eat cake you say?

    Perception is reality. If our leaders can conspicuously consume while people are losing jobs daiy it is disgraceful.

    A nice bottle of sparkling water would be fine for those "world leaders".

    November 14, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  22. Leon

    Small history lesson:
    In the USSR there was strong believe that Lenin (USSR the very 1st leader) and his ministers in Kremlin had only tea (sometime without sugar) and
    bread during 1917-1924 when it were very difficult times in Russia.
    Then recently documents were uncovered that actualy Kremlin at that time was supplied with ALL THE BEST food you can imagine (caviar, wines, etc).

    November 14, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  23. Lora B.

    kinda makes those $23k pedicures for the AIG executives sound like peanuts.....

    November 14, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  24. U. S. Navy Retired now a civilian

    The Taxpayers will be left holding the bill the President Bush and Dick Chaney runs up....

    November 14, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  25. Bill Charlotte,NC

    Count on Bush to do his part to "shop" us out of the depression. What a leader.

    November 14, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
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