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. Colin

    No, the world leaders should not be expected to eat at McDonald's to save money. In the big scheme the 20 or so meals and bottles of wine they drink wouldn't do much to alleviate the global economy, especially at the heavily discounted price the White House gets.

    However, it does point out that these people are so out of touch with what the average person has to deal with, that it's no wonder nothing ever gets fixed. They are so far removed from reality, the people in ivory towers can't even see them. If they can go about their business running the world as incompetently as they have, and yet still enjoy quail and rack of lamb, all washed down with $500 a bottle wine, where's the motivation to actually the job right.

    Politicians are the worst abusers of public welfare ever created.

    November 14, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  2. Jim

    This is wasteful and against the gov't policy for the gov't agency I work at, yet I guess THEY are above it. HYPOCRITES!

    November 14, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  3. Voter

    I work for a Government contractor and we have per diem established by the government for a reason...

    why do government officials not have the same standards?

    November 14, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  4. mbjohnson

    World leaders or not this is exactly the kind of mentality that has gotten us into this problem. Spending for champagne on a beer budget. If leaders are leaders they would set the example and sacrifice like everyone else or at least moderate their behavior in times such as these.

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

    Why all the complaining about the wine? How much was the Chef and the rest of the staff? Should've ordered McDonalds dollar menu items and called it good.

    November 14, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  6. Someone with common sense

    Seriously for all those people on these comments saying what a waste of tax dollars or that its all the Bush adminstration's stupid spending and that Obama will get rid of stuff like this, get a life.

    First off FAR more tax dollars are going to lazy people who dont want to get a job and would rather live off welfare then the white house is spending on wine. Ya I pay taxes too and I hate knowing that my money is going to lazy people when I work hard for a buck!

    Second of all what do you want them to serve other government officials? Lunchables with a juice box? Seriously what do you expect?! When Obama moves into the white house Michele and Barack will spend an estimated $200,000 of YOUR tax dollars to renovate the white house the way that they want it. Got a problem with that?

    To even argue that this is all Bush's adminstration and stupid spending is ridiculous! get real. When Obama takes office he will have HUGE lavish white tie dinners and spend tons of YOUR money hosting people from other countries. Its not just a Bush, it comes with the job of the president. So just suck it up and take it because there are FAR worse things your tax money goes to!

    T from Iowa

    November 14, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  7. unmarshal

    So this is what people need to understand. It doesn't matter who's in power. These people are going to spend your money. The system of incentives in government does not encourage frugality because they are buying things with other people's money. From the left and right we hear people decrying this who think that only if their guy was in power this would all go away. The problem is the system itself, not the people.

    November 14, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  8. Truth

    Polly, you seriously don't know why this is news?
    Some people should not be allowed to comment.
    Let me guess you're @ the top 2 percent. Enjoying you're chafer cabernet and you're merlot.

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

    The should have rolled wih MD20-20. World leaders need to stop frontin'!

    November 14, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  10. Robert Wooller Bradford England, UK

    Well, this just proves how out of touch the world's rich elite are!!!

    November 14, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  11. Mark in Ohio

    Just looking at the comments posted here, its hard to miss the name-calling mean-spiritedness that underlies the thin liberal veneer of tolerance and inclusiveness.

    What are they supposed to serve their guests, the leaders of the world's economies? Kraft macaroni & cheese?

    Liberals are not happy until everyone is as miserable as they are.

    November 14, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  12. Simmy

    Thousands of Katrina victims will probably never be able to move back home. Many I read, are still living in tents, moving from shelter to shelter, etc. since hurricane Ike. I wonder where the justice is, when these individuals can so easily be forgotten; their plights swept under governmental rugs, over a drink.

    I hope and pray that President Obama will elect someone over Homeland Security Department that respects the right of American citizens to at least have a roof over their heads.

    Paulson and others have disbursed monies to banks, bank officials, and/or who knows whom. There's no paper trail to account for billions of dollars, and yet we have people in this country who have no where to lay their heads at night. Change can't come quickly enough!

    Pray, pray for our new President Obama – He's being left with a load of mess! Thank God he is who he is!

    November 14, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  13. BlueDogDem

    Ok, wait a second...these are world leaders. Granted, we shouldn't expect them to eat McDonald's dollar menu (although that would be a savvy political move to do dinner as inexpensively as possible). However, $500 bottles of wine? That's a little over the top.

    I don't care which party is in power...they're meeting to discuss a GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS, brought on – in part – because our economy is collapsing because we keep borrowing money we can't pay back. The Republicans should be mad about frivilous gov't spending of their tax money...instead, many of them are simply defending the President. The Dems in here are steadfastly attacking the Bush Admin...we're used to these roles...but, I think a little common sense, and a reasonable amount of compromise on the appropriateness of such actions at this time, should lead both ends of the political spectrum to recognize that this was not only bad PR, but an irresponsible political blunder.

    I'm a struggling college student, raising two kids...I know what it's like to be strappd for cash. If I had the choice between grilling burgers for my friends with what little cash I have, or buying them all a dinner at a four-star restaurant on my credit card, I'm gonna take the wise choice. Could be why I'm not swimming in creditor debt with no way out???

    November 14, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  14. mike

    Sure, it's expensive, but as a world leader I would be insulted to be served anything less. It's just standard protocol, this truly is a ridiculous story.

    November 14, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  15. Sid....Texas

    Wow!! $500 a bottle for something that will burn in Coleman lantern. I feel lucky when I can find my favorite soda pop for less than a $1.38 for a 2 liter bottle. Used to cost 69 cents. Let them drink tap water. Be sure to clean out the fridge before you leave......

    November 14, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  16. Maggie from Virginia

    I approve... There is nothing wrong with this... I will add this to my wine list. Thanks CNN

    November 14, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  17. GalileoRad


    November 14, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  18. Woodman

    This from the party of fiscal conservatives–the same people who dressed Palin for $150,000. Gotta wonder.....

    November 14, 2008 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  19. Jeff

    I am certain that even as i type this the whitehouse procurement staff is purchasing $5.99 wine and restocking the cellars now! What ajoke

    November 14, 2008 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  20. me


    November 14, 2008 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  21. David

    Water is a pretty good beverage, and doesn't impair cognitive processes.

    November 14, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  22. Polly

    Chris in ham and cheese turns out better than exotic cuisine.

    November 14, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  23. John Macdonald-Canada

    I think the answer given about the wine being served at this dinner is quite satisfactory-They are the heads of many powerful countries.
    Being from Canada I continue to find it very unusual that many articles pointing out attending countries always seem to overlook mentioning Canada–
    This meeting is to discuss the exchange ideas about resolving the world financial meltdown .
    Please note that Canada is represented by Prime Minister Stephen Harper who has run our country and governed in such a fashion that Canada is recognized by all ot the G20 as the most soundly run country among them when it comes to finances.
    Its time to give credit where credit is due–
    Thanks from your greatest northern trading partner to the North.

    November 14, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  24. just a thought

    this is why they can't relate to the average american, they are so far above us.

    November 14, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  25. Polly

    I don't trust men who get manicures and pedicures.

    November 14, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
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