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. Whine

    The White House staff bought low and sold high. That is a good sign is it not? a good investment. I am sure the White house celler will provide some excellent and expensive wine for Obama's guests as well. Come visit the Obama White House where we only serve cheap wine... I do not think so.

    November 14, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    i agree that diplomats should be treated special. How about the fabulous Far Niente at approximately $50 per bottle and save the $500 fpr better times,when the average "Joe" isn"t suffering as much?


    November 14, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  3. Judy

    There is NOTHING like a fine wine! C'est la vie!

    November 14, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  4. mark19103

    Who really cares about expensive wine from the White House cellar, lets say a hundred bottles at $500, which adds up $50,000. Wall st. guys steal more than that every day of the week with their packaged gimmicks. Why arent we up in arms about the millions of dollars of bonuses to be paid out to Wall St., by firms that took BILLIONS from Paulson as part of the bail-out. Some times I think we are being fed a series of smoke screens to cover up the atrocity of these bonuses. These firms were part of the problem involving Hedge Funds, Credit Default Swaps, and the entire mortgage mess. Why give them anything. And the rating agencies are still going strong when they are a major part of the entire mess. How come its always the big, powerful and rich people who get away with this kind of thievery? Get Paulson out of there now, before he gives everything to his cronies. The Republicans have screwed us and this will last for a very long time. And they still have 2 months to screw us some more. Or isnt there anything left?

    Fed Up To Here

    November 14, 2008 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  5. Saudi Daudi


    November 14, 2008 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  6. George


    Did Georgie pick this year?

    November 14, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  7. j.d.

    seems like alot of people aren't even reading the article, it says a wine than CAN go for as much as 500$, not that they actually paid this much. I mean a bud light could go for 15$ if bought at say a concert.... this article is a serious stretch, they most likely paid nowhere near this amount.

    November 14, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  8. willowood

    Gee, wasting expensive wine on this fraudulent group should make every winemaker shudder. I will remember the wines and rightly boycott.

    November 14, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  9. Master of the Universe

    These are global leaders who have 20 armored vehicles following them everywhere they go, people paid to die at moments' notice for them, jets devoted to their travel, and decoy jets devoted to confusing others about their travel.

    You work in accounts receivable. You live in a one bedroom apartment with your cat Mr. Pounces. You drive a Toyota Corolla.

    They drink fine wine. You drink boxed wine. Get over it.

    Ever since Bush and Palin came onto the scene, it's like can't differentiate between the necessary cosmopolitan intelligence of world leaders and that guy who can cook a mean bratwurst at the bbq.

    November 14, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  10. Ray

    I think they should have served a more appropriate wine for the occasion; something like HOPE Chiraz!

    November 14, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  11. Polly

    Springsteen wrote: poor man wants to be rich, rich man wants to be king, and if the king ain't satisfied then we lose everything. It would take a heck of a man to turn our financial situation around.

    November 14, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  12. dropout

    For a more sensible article on the politics of the White House wine cellar I refer you to an article last month in entitled The politics of the White House Cellar.

    November 14, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  13. detroit guy

    Maybe I'll buy a bottle or two when I have the cash. I don't earn much, but I appreciate nice wines.

    November 14, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  14. Browzil

    yea really, our coffee is worth more than that

    November 14, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  15. Axl

    It would be interesting to see if we could write articles about stories that actually matter, or try to get anything tangible accomplished, instead of wasting time bickering about the price of wine served at the White House. This is pathetic. Who cares? It's been that way forever, it's not going to change. There are rich people and there are poor people (except in Communist and Fascist societies, where everyone is poor). That's the way the world works. get over it.

    And for those of you intent on blaming Bush for everything, give it a bloody rest. I find it interesting how you people can say that Bush single handedly screwed everything up and makes all these decisions on his own, and Obama is going to single handedly change everything and make all these decisions on his own. That is incredibly naive. Do you honestly think the President has unconditional and unlimited power and clout?

    Obama will serve the same value wine at his dinners, I guarantee it.

    November 14, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  16. JenniferK

    Kids, number one, it's a wine from Napa, California, which, last time I looked is still part of the US of A. I've been lucky enough to drink Shafer cab and it is TOTALLY orgasmic. But, remember this is probably not the vintage currently being sold retail [it's been sitting around in the WH wine cellar for a while] and given the White House discount [vs retail] and to WOW the world, this is a GREAT wine to serve. The French will think that their awesome Chateanneuf du Pape [so many, totally outstanding] might take a page from our Napa patriots 🙂

    I offer up a well-worn California saying: "Life's too short to drink bad wine."

    Times are tough, but letting great vintages go to vinegar is just stupid and a total waste. Better our fabulous wines should be used in the interest of international diplomacy and good will.

    Too bad it's not our President-elect at the head of the table . . . much more would be accomplished!

    November 14, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  17. Dennis

    I don't care how much they spent on the food and wine at the White House dinner. I'm much more upset at the Democrats in Congress and the Carter and Clinton Administrations who caused this financial mess via the Community Reinvestment Act. This led to the $ 850 BILLION total bailout bill ($ 700B for the bailout, another $ 150B for pork). Those responsible for this mess, not President Bush, should be in jail.

    November 14, 2008 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  18. Manny Faye

    Like usuall, you got it wrong CNN, it is actually 631.35$ per bottle. Why can't you ever report anything correctly ?

    November 14, 2008 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  19. Lkbreth

    What did you really expect? Franzia box wine and Ritz crackers?

    November 14, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  20. julio

    They are the world leaders, can't well expect them to order Mcdonald's extra value meals.

    November 14, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  21. Chris

    I wouldn't criticize the White House in this case. We are greeting foreign leaders. We can't order pizza. Now, for an AIG meeting, that is a whole other story.

    November 14, 2008 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  22. Chris

    I wouldn't criticize the White House in this case. We are greeting foreign leaders. We can't order pizza and Coke for delivery. Now, for an AIG meeting, that is a whole other story.

    November 14, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  23. Justin Guy

    Why... why can't they go to McDonalds and feast on Big Macs and diet cokes like the rest of us???

    November 14, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  24. Gerg from cinci

    Articles like this make me laugh out loud but even more than articles like this, is the fake "outrage" everyone gets..... So many people are indignant and claim " this is just like republicans"....i mean seriously do you expect any presidential regime in history who invited people to be their GUEST's at dinner would not do the same exact thing. I voted libertarian. i hate government waste and believe unnecessary spending is one of the biggest problems with our government but "outrage" over a nice dinner and a good bottle of wine? really...come on.

    November 14, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  25. Will East

    It's the White House hosting World Leaders. Should they be made to drink D.C. tap water? I hope we would serve $500 bottles of wine at White House events. This article is stupid!!!

    November 14, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
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