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. vobichlan, montreal

    It's not peculiar to wine and dine world economic leader in style unless one wants the US to look dowdy! These people are talking about multi-trillion dollar business, what's a few thousand-dollar dinner?

    November 14, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  2. Tim

    When I have guests over, regardless of my current financial situation, I attempt to serve them the finest food and drink in the house. I would expect my nation would do the same when inviting over the prestigious leaders of foreign nations. Would you rather serve them Domino's and a liter of coke? I think this is an example of sensational journalism that I, like the rest of those who have posted comments, am guilty of perpetuating. I would hope our country would soon exhaust of such drivel and focus on actual news. Obviously, I should start with myself.

    November 14, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  3. ej

    Sorry, this does not sound like a gesture provided by a real Christian. I think just about every American Christian is cognizant of the fact that Americans are suffering. Even my Daughter understood the importance of the symbolism of this act, it didn't escape her, but it escapes our supposed world leaders. Personal responsibility is a mantra, but not a practiced reality. Buying $150K worth of clothes for a campaign, $500 dollar a bottle wine and giving banks BILLIONS of future American's money. I'm tired of the sham our government is, people need to expect more. How sad.

    November 14, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  4. Ryan

    There has to be real news happening somewhere right now. Seriously. Who really cares?

    November 14, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  5. Polly

    Truth- What do you expect them to serve world leaders? I think this is most appropriate. Mediterranian, mid-eastern, and a bit of Texas...

    November 14, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  6. z stout

    who cares?

    November 14, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  7. Kevin

    Oh please. Are we supposed to serve the WORLD LEADERS orange juice and some crackers instead? I believe wine is appropriate for this matter. People are becoming so ridiculous that they are attacking every little decision the Bush administration makes, including the choice of wine. Sad. Very sad.

    I bet if Barack Obama made this decision, it would be perfectly okay.

    November 14, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  8. the MOO

    Uh, Yockintampa... don't understand how this is exactly the problem as you say. And when is it too late? When there is no more money left? If there is no money left where would it go away too? Could we find it? Place ads on telephone poles asking for whereabouts of Lost Money? And if we found it , would it be Too Late? Then we could place same ads for Lost Time. And then if it wasn't too late, and we had the money... what time would it be? 9pm? Certainly not too late for a nice bottle of wine. If you come across a nice bottle of wine. Give it a home. Drink it. Enjoy. Don't get angry at it's price. Pretty soon it will be too late.

    November 14, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  9. Paul J. Edwards

    Hey mike,

    Look where these world leaders have led us. Right to the brink of depression and disaster. I think that if they were insulted for having a nice meal with some sparkling water then so be it.

    Better yet send the invitation to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle). Now that would make a statement as to the seriousness of the situation and their sincerity in trying to fi it.

    November 14, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  10. Steve

    I'm not angry that they're drinking $500 wine.

    I'll be angry if they don't get anything done to fix the problem.

    November 14, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  11. tucker

    You dorks need to do better research.
    A quick run through Google found the same wine for $219/bottle.

    November 14, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |

    Are you kidding me?!!!! People starving all over this country, loosing homes, and jobs...and OUR tax dollars are pouring $500.00 bottles of wine down world leaders throats. Tell them...look, we got a crisis going on here....let them eat a hamburger and store brand pop like the rest of us! I can not wait until Obama moves into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave! Bush – would you please leave early!

    November 14, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |


    November 14, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  14. Peter in Canada

    I think a more appropriate question than what wine red or white is obviously..."would you like fries with that Mr. Head of State?"

    November 14, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  15. Lynn Wilson

    I realize that there is an ignorance of your neighbour to the North, but to not even mention us, unless we're in the 11 developing economies is ignorance beyond belief.

    Jim from Canada

    November 14, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  16. Ross

    I could get that wine right now for $200 a bottle – retail, to me, a regular consumer. That's the same as the release price. If bought by the case, it'd be $180 a bottle. If wholesale and by the case (how it was almost surely purchased), it would likely be closer to $150-$160. That's a reasonable price for a wine to be served to dignitaries.

    November 14, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  17. Gman

    Seems to me that a more appropriate way to demonstrate the plight of world economics would be for the White House to serve a meal that was more in line with what the vast population of the planet has to eat..... if they eat.

    November 14, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  18. obama is yo mama

    I'm as liberal as they come and I am totally ok with the whitehouse serving $500/bottle wine to heads of state. Anything less and it would look like we had a bumpkin running the show.


    November 14, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  19. Deep in thought

    I cannot believe some of you are getting so riled up over this. I cannot wait to see what Obama serves up, oh yeah I bet we will never know...the media will still be slanting everything on him then also. Those that keep blaming Bush for everything, man are yall in denial it is also the lovely democrats ignorance for the mess our country is in. Lets face facts they all stink and the sooner we get rid of all of the career politicians the better off we will be. It sure doesn't look like Obama is going to do any better, wow he is filling his administration with more of the same ole tired politicians that don't do anything but line their pockets too. We are a sinking ship and until we clean the slate I don't see things getting any better.

    November 14, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  20. David

    Although sells this wine for $499, it most commonly sells for $250-$300. I found it listed as low as $199 and only $189 on EBAY. The author clearly listed the most expenssive price on the market to exaggerate his point... which is simply poor journalism.

    $189 is still a lot of money to me... but let's put this into perspective. It is the duty of a host to provide a quality experience to his guests. When the host is the White House and the guests are world leaders, I don't think a $189 bottle of wine is anything to whine about.

    November 14, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  21. David Newport, OR

    This is not an issue.

    November 14, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  22. Paul J. Edwards

    I am sorry but I have one more comment and I will be quiet.

    If the White House received this expensive wine for free or below cost could that be considered a bribe? Perhaps some obscure legislatiojn that benefits Stags Leap Vineyards. It would not surprise me with these scoundrels.

    Ok I am done.

    November 14, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  23. Barack Sadam Heusein O' Suicide Bama

    Why are people blaming Bush for this?

    He drank Pap's Blue Ribbon the whole night.

    For Late night we pissed in all of the oil reserve tanks and crank called Pakistan.

    November 14, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  24. CS

    This is why I choke every time I hear Paulson and/or Shrub refer to "our economy." It's not "our economy."

    The frightened employed (or terrified and hoping to remain employed), the working stiff, the disenfranchised poor, and the outright and permanently marginalized have one economy. It's a sliding scale of want, fear, and need for many of us, and it's "our economy."

    Folks like Bush and Paulsen have their own economy. It has nothing to do with the one within which the majority of this country lives.

    I doubt I'll ever taste a $500.00 bottle of wine. I know that I will never spend $150,000 for my work wardrobe. Yet I have no room to complain: I have a car that works, a cute apartment, clothes on my back, and at least for now, a job. I'm better off than a lot of folks, and grateful for what I do have.

    Still, it makes me sick to my stomach to hear the words "our economy" coming out of their silver spoon-fed mouths. And I am sorry, but not surprised, at the lavishness of the accoutrements that will accompany this world summit on the economic crisis.

    November 14, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  25. duh

    Would you have them eat at McDonalds?

    November 14, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
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