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. HJDR

    This dinner is offered by the United States, it is appropiate to serve quality food and wine. $500 bottle is within resonable range. AIG excutives probably are sipping $2,000 wine on company budget.

    November 15, 2008 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  2. Joey G

    Let Bush enjoy his last days in Office.
    And, why did Bush hosted or even initiated a summit meeting during his numbered days in office?
    We call it mignight grabbing of power.
    He (Bush) has no more rights to even call worldwide attention when all the world leaders have already known the results of the 2008 elections and of Bush unfavorable ratings worldwide.
    He cannot even use his Air Force One, or his limo or Marine 1. He has to transport all his White House belongings in a commercial transportation system.
    Bye Bush.....

    November 15, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  3. DC-African in Colorado Springs, Colorado

    The current global economy crisis has been created by at least two world leaders in a very sophisticated way so that they will be the only successful in the market arena and the rest of the world will remind messy forever...Oops!

    November 15, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  4. Joe

    How about feeding these idiots some hotdogs or spaghetti. Or better yet, TV Dinners.

    November 15, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  5. Anonymous

    I likes that.

    November 15, 2008 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  6. Dutch

    Absolutely appalling. Even at a reduced price, it's a complete insult to the American public, those of us who have paid for this nice vintage. While I am still looking for a job after being laid off, I truly hope they enjoy every last drop – drops of which I paid for...

    November 15, 2008 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  7. Joe

    I bet if we all stopped paying taxes they would finally listen. It would take at least half the country to really make the impact.

    November 15, 2008 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  8. Mari

    Wow...It's quite sickening to read about the money we work so hard to earn going towards $500 bottles of wine...

    November 15, 2008 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  9. Will18E

    Simply, a lack of leadership again.

    November 15, 2008 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  10. Suzy

    Becky, are you really stupid? You should be the first one to be fired in current economy for such a poor article where you didnt even attempt to do research.
    ( a ) wine is available for less then $200 in many retail shops. you can just do "google" search if you know what i mean
    ( b ) for cellars, wines must have bought years ago when it wasnt aged..something like at about 50-60$

    November 15, 2008 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  11. michael mancari

    This story is so stupid. It's not about the wine or its cost it's the impression we need to make. Leaders lead and followers follow. At this time we need leadership, I hope they consumed the correct direction,

    November 15, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  12. Nick Pappageorgio

    Waste of time... I thought this was going to be about CEOs or something. Freaking most powerful country in the World and this author wants us to serve boxed wine from Walmart.

    November 15, 2008 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  13. Roxanne

    Was it donated to the Bush WH by the OIL industry?

    November 15, 2008 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  14. Sharon

    Are you kidding me, 500 $ for a bottle of wine? I wanna know how many bottles they went through and how much the dinner cost .Probably enough to feed a struggling family for a year if not more.

    November 15, 2008 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  15. M. Brooks

    Clearly a poorly reseached price point.

    Pick up a bottle for less than $150 online and, if your state permits such shipments, you can be drinking what an abstaining lame duck serves world leaders.

    November 15, 2008 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  16. PCB

    Thank God, only a few more days of this administration. This has been the most incompetent band of fools I've ever seen in my life! From Brownie to Bushie, they all need some serious help on the mental front.

    November 15, 2008 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  17. Spencer Gehring

    Good grief. WHO CARES?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

    They are the leaders of the planet. They are going to drink good wine. I think our $10,000,000,000,000 economy can afford a bottle of wine or two. Even on a bad day.

    CNN, get a grip... THIS IS NOT NEWS.

    November 15, 2008 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  18. Alex

    GA resident: No, what is making people cynical about politicians is, well, politicians!

    November 15, 2008 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  19. M. Jones

    This is such a stupid article written to try to stir up trouble. This wine does not retail at $500. is a reseller, it is like buying scalped concert tickets. I but this wine directly from the winery for $190 a bottle every year. This is someone just trying to get a stir out of everyone – and it seems to have worked.

    November 15, 2008 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  20. Kinght

    Great !!!

    Go down with style. Why Bush is giving advice to the world about the crisis though. Since the USA got everyone screw up.

    November 15, 2008 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  21. Kyle C

    Considering you're hosting leaders from around the World, it is absolutely appropriate for the White House to host their guests well and serve a fine wine. Do you really expect the wealthiest nation in the World to serve Coke and potato chips?

    November 15, 2008 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  22. D. Banai

    I don't see why the menu at the White House is news worthy unless it has a direct effect on the global financial crisis, which it does not. Would the crisis be eased and confidence restored to the financial communy if the White House served hot dogs and baked bean?

    November 15, 2008 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  23. Stephen Eaglin

    This sounds more like a going away party let them eat drink and be merry!

    November 15, 2008 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  24. ChicagoSuz

    Whew! at least they didn't serve him any arugula... wouldn't want them to think we were elitists, or anything.

    Next year, Obama can make his chili w/a side of mac & cheese. They'll love it... 😉

    November 15, 2008 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  25. has brain, will google

    first of all: it is a 1.5 liter bottle! come on, people, the article mentions the source,, that's just 8 keystrokes away

    second: this is an exceptionally stupid article

    it reminds me of the garbage that is churned out in the european press

    how much is an hour of a top world leader worth? remember to count transportation of the full court, protection, opportunity cost, blah blah

    oh, still don't think the price of the wine drowns in comparison?

    how much is at stake at this meeting? imagine e.g. that the outcome can prolong or shorten a global recession by 3 months

    how many seconds of global recession is 5 x 500 dollars?


    November 15, 2008 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
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