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. Anonymous

    Thats great. Lead by example!

    November 14, 2008 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  2. Pua, HI

    Someone mentioned Canada was missing in the article unless considered one of the developing countries, so is Germany... strange.
    The wine issue is anon issue as probably bought at a much lower price and it is ok to serve a great wine to world dignitaries.

    November 14, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  3. MK

    Shame on politicians who spend money like it was water while they ponder a bailout of automakers and whine about our economy being bad . When they suffer some consequences of their bad choices things may change for us, until then I am afraid we all have to keep footing their bills.

    Our politicians are not part of a royal familiy, yet they act like they are. We are their boses and we need to continue to fire them until they hear us loud and clear. Just like Palin and her stupid clothes, she did not deserve the blame? If she was a fiscal conservative, like her billing said, then why on earth did she accept one clothing item she did not need? And why did she not purchase those clothes herself? Don't tell me she was not looking for a handout, she just didn't know she would be caught. Who on earth wants her underwear that was donated to charity? Good Lord. What charity accepted it?

    They are all sickening to me right now, every stinking one of them.

    November 14, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  4. 2sense

    The Shaffer Winery makes one of the best red wines in the world. Notice the flattering graffic accompanying this silly post. This kind of global publicitiy is not affordable in the U S of A (Made in the USA.)

    November 14, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  5. davetharave

    Everything is going to be scrutinized under a 10 ft. microscope until we turn the corner.

    November 14, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  6. Common Sense

    never stops does it? you are funny

    November 14, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  7. rabbitsong

    Sheesh...guys... are you reading.. eh? eh? They bought AMERICAN!! Didn't serve French wine with our Freedom Fries. Pretty cool, eh? Our American tax dollars buying American wine. Money back into the American economy and hopefully these world leaders will all want a case or two. Excellent marketing!!!

    November 14, 2008 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  8. Brian

    It's a good thing we had an election. As the rest of us are struggling, they celebrate. Didn't Marie Antionette party while France starved? Maybe their just trying to clear the good stuff out before moving day?

    How many bottles were used?
    We could have saved money, served some rasberry Boones Farm ($2.19 a bottle) and used the money for something useful like more bail out money for their AIG cronies. They could have gone somewhere nice for a meeting or something.

    November 14, 2008 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  9. Delete

    500$ would pay most peoples food bill. drink it down good !

    November 14, 2008 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  10. ben


    November 14, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  11. vence

    If this would be the last supper for Bush, and Richardson appears to say goodbye I would be more that happy to pay for it.

    November 14, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  12. Gays for Obama

    Someone's gotta drink the stuff>

    November 14, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  13. Sue

    Nothing like wining and dining to the tune of our collective misery...

    November 14, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  14. John E Lexington KY

    I hope W grabbed the bottle and chugged it so he can be put in rehab for the next two months where he won't do as much harm. Who am I kidding, Cheney is running this as he has everything with his shadow government within the executive branch. If there has ever been a more venal cabal at the head of a democratic government – save the equally vile Reagan bunch (now so gilded by the keepers of the flame – remember Anne Gorsuch, Ed Meese, Elliot Abramson?) – it escapes my memory. I hope they all end up in the pen, doing hard labor. I suppose they could be offered safe transport to some South American dictatorship where they'd feel more comfortable. My gag reflex is completely worn out.

    November 14, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  15. cc

    Better drink up before the Democrats get control of the White House and the wine!
    I have a better idea, if they got such a good deal, why not auction it off to pay for all the debts we now have(gee, especially since they might had had something to do with it.... do ya think....!!!!!)

    November 14, 2008 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  16. Matt McCraney

    Thsi just goes to show that the Republican party is "OUT OF TOUCH" with the rest of America. They need to be serving Boone's Farm and eating at Waffle House...

    November 14, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  17. A.S.Mathew

    What we have faced with today: the worst financial crisis since
    depression is the outcome of selfishness and greed of the
    politicans, CEOs, oil producing countries, oil companies, etc. Now those world leaders are gathered to solve
    the problem overnight by sipping $ 499.00/bottle wine and special
    food. While thousands of people are waiting in soup kitchens for
    watery soup with a few pieces of meat if lucky, but see the
    exubertant extravagance! Indeed, they can solve the problem, let
    God have mercy on these hypocrites.

    November 14, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  18. Wally

    500$ a bottle is that all ? well, no wonder we get these kind of results from these events. wow

    November 14, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Our Govt. sucks

    November 14, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  20. Ruth

    Why didn't they serve Texas B.B.Q. After all, we do have a cowboy in the whitehouse.

    November 14, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  21. bart Mindszenthy

    Looking at the list of nations, have to wonder what happened to Canada– guess we're just emerging, or is this yet another oversight of a partner in trade, war, and lots of values?

    November 14, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  22. Polly

    China probably lent us the money for it.

    November 14, 2008 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  23. Beano

    Probably a real intelligent meeting of how to bail out the Wine Industry

    November 14, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  24. Tim

    Sheesh, what is wrong with some of you people? This is the WHITE HOUSE of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. We can and will serve the highest quality food and drink, as befitting the greatest country in the world. The President of the United States, whoever holds the office, deserves the perks of the office.

    Do you *really* want the President of the United States serving wine out of a box at a high-level international function? Give me a break.

    November 14, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  25. winesooth

    I think it behooves Becky Brittain et al to post an erratum on this story. So many commenters are taking your $499 price at face value when that price is *absolutely* inaccurate. The wine retails for as low as $135 and it is likely that the White house got it for half that price if not free from the winery (for PR purposes). Your facts are wrong and you have misled your readers. Would people's reactions be as powerful if they felt that the White House was pouring a wine for foreign dignitaries that its quartermaster paid $65 to $90 per bottle?

    As an active wine blogger and writer, I spend a lot of time and energy urging (wine) bloggers to aspire to lofty journalistic ideals. This piece is not one I would use as as a positive example. It is *exactly* the kind of thing I urge them *not* to do.

    November 14, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
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