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. AJG

    I'll make everyone a deal–no more posts on this issue after mine and I'll take 2 bottles out of my wine cellar, sell them on and donate the cash to a local food pantry.

    lenips (my "name" on winecommune)

    November 14, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  2. jb

    No worries, Obama will do the same thing. It's the "right thing to do" if you're a world leader. What a crock.

    The only politician who would NEVER spend like this is Ron Paul. Such a shame he lost to McCain in the primaries. I guess it's because Dr. Paul represents TRUE change while everyone else in Washington is content with their share of the status quo.


    November 14, 2008 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |

    Come on, ya'll.

    We're just mad that WE'RE not getting to drink that good wine and eat that fancy meal.

    Dang, I wonder which leader will get sloshed and hit on Laura. . .

    November 14, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  4. Gabriel

    You can also pick up this specific wine in this specific vintage for less than $200 from a variety of retailers, and some of them have 10-15% discounts for full case purchases. This administration picked it up wholesale, so it was less than these numbers. Quoting $500 at (which doesn't actually have any) is pure sensationalism. Heck, why not quote, which carries it at $667?

    November 14, 2008 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  5. Pam

    The government pays $1000 for a toilet seat. This shouldn't surprise anyone.

    November 14, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  6. Franceisco

    we throw away wine at that price. i would think you would be serving them something of value.

    November 14, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  7. Lizz

    Do you think it is more appropriate to just derve plain water?
    What would the world leaders think of USA?

    November 14, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  8. rob

    Alright, alright... I'll settle this. Remember the kool-aid served by Jim Jones? Hell, to bad it wasn't served at the 2000 election parties. Just think, no Carl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales, ad nauseum.

    November 14, 2008 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  9. Tom in NJ

    well, if you were leaving your cellar behind in 2 months, would you drink the mundane stuff or clean out the good stuff. In this particular instance, I think President-elect Obama will be lucky if there are several bottles of Ripple left in the cellar. George can throw a party pretty well, so I am sure consumption will go in to overdrive now that a democrat will be the next master of the cellar...

    November 14, 2008 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    They are unsophisticated, for leaders, that's it. This is 2003 Cab, it was released in 2005 and should be cellared much, much longer than three years, what a waste!
    It did though cost at release almost as much as it is today.

    November 14, 2008 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  11. James Flaherty

    Enjoy yourselves for now, you evil men. Your days are numbered. Soon, America will have a real leader as President, a man who cares about serving the people of the United States, as is expected by those who do the sweating and the crying, the bleeding and the dying, the real American people, upon whose shoulders our nation is carried.

    Greed is not good! And selfishness is bad! And you leaders, who turned your backs on the citizens of America, and the world, while enriching yourselves with no care for the young and the old, the weak and the helpless, those less fortunate, to them you will one day give account. Perhaps they will have more pity on you, as you stand in your tears remembering what you did and did not do, that you ought!

    The elected are elected to serve the people. Servant? You would have none of it. Perhaps, some more wine?

    November 14, 2008 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  12. J.C.

    I think this was money better spent than the bailout.

    November 14, 2008 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  13. let them eat tortillas

    I think these folks should be required to go hungry for a couple days and then meet and dine in a barrio. Maybe then they'd be able to BEGIN to wrap their heads around what this crisis means for most people in the world.

    November 14, 2008 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  14. Sal

    Media such as this bothers me; it’s not really a big deal in my eyes. The tax dollars are not "wasted". Master Chefs are employing their skills, A Vineyard, wine distributor, and servers are all doing what they do and being compensated for it.

    I myself enjoy a $100-$200 bottle of wine and an expensive dinner on occasion. Shouldn’t the leaders of our country be able to as well? This whole economy thing is exasperated when people panic and shut their wallets.

    November 14, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  15. David

    And yet more "Out of touch with reality" stupidity: Mitt Romney and other GOP cronies take an all expenses paid Caribbean cruise to discuss how to get the "Republican brand" back on top as well as Mitt's possible "future" presidential bid.

    Well Mitt- with dumber than dumb manuvers like this- your future in politics looks pretty much in the toilet where it belongs.

    November 14, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  16. GA resident

    This is news about nothing. It would have been a news if some deals were made during the dinner. To talk about what the world leader ended up drinking and eating is what is making people synical about politicians.

    I don't approve of really anything that President Bush has done so far, but media bashing him for offering $500 wine is really ridiculous. I like to think that we are not that small.

    November 14, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  17. Republican for Obama

    No, of course we don't expect the White House to serve boxed wine to foreign leaders...but, $499/bottle??? Geez! ...but what really gets me mad is how our tax bailout dollars are being spent on corporate bonuses and incentive trips! INSANE!!!!!

    November 14, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  18. KJL

    This is silly. Should good wine that was bought a while back go to waste because it's expensive?

    November 14, 2008 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  19. andrew

    They are after all WORLD LEADERS, they could be dropping alot more on wine, and since when does everyone care what other people drink/eat. If you had to entertain world leaders, would you serve them cheap food? NO.

    November 14, 2008 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  20. DC-African in Colorado Springs, Colorado

    Here is the deal: World leaders messed the world up and they should all be removed from their current posts.

    November 14, 2008 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  21. 3strikes

    i bet if nobama was hosting this shindig, you all followers of the false prophet nobama would be praising him, but since its bush, you're bashing. such hipocrisy you guys can show

    November 15, 2008 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  22. Luis Koge

    Next time make it BYOB and problem solved.

    November 15, 2008 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  23. tom

    "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."

    Do Republicans ever blame themselves for anything? If Obama's presidency puts us in a deeper hole I'll be looking for this guy to get out the information that it is actually Bush's fault for his policies and Obama should actually get reelected.

    November 15, 2008 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  24. Tylenol666-The Headache Devil

    All of those people are Presidents , Prime Ministers and Heads of State,, NOT LEADERS

    Obama is a LEADER ! there's a Huge Difference

    So G20 Just likeyou came you will Leave

    Change is coming on Jan 20th ,, enjoy your hangover while it lasts 🙂

    November 15, 2008 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  25. Julio

    i think they should have a wine named Pork Barrell wine

    November 15, 2008 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
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