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. Moxie Gurl

    Someone should have run out to Trader Joes and got some Two Buck Chuck ($2.00).

    Geez $500 bucks a bottle, I hope it was good. They could have gotten nice tasting wine for $30.00.

    A disgrace I tell ya.

    November 15, 2008 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  2. Frank

    As Rome burned, Nero fiddled.


    November 15, 2008 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
  3. jim

    World leaders or not, drinking expensive wine at such an event is in poor taste.

    November 15, 2008 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  4. Joe Murphy

    Did Laura, and ding-dong, serve FORTUNE COOKIES at the end to???

    November 15, 2008 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  5. x

    why don't you all get a life, get a job, and go on with your lives!

    November 15, 2008 02:52 am at 2:52 am |
  6. jameson

    I'm not a fan of the current administration, but this form of shoddy journalism has to stop. What a crap commentary.

    November 15, 2008 02:53 am at 2:53 am |
  7. Laura

    Hey if I owned a winery I would probably give some away to get it served at a White House dinner/

    November 15, 2008 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  8. Mike

    George Bush was an alcholic before...wish he had stayed an alcholic. Would have saved the country a lot of trouble. Hope you find your taste for wine again George 🙂

    November 15, 2008 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  9. Mike

    For M Jones ...190 dollars is a lot of money...every think with that bottle you drink you could have save a starving childs life for the whole year

    November 15, 2008 03:05 am at 3:05 am |
  10. Joe Murphy

    I bet Bush and his daddy drink NIGHT TRAIN or BOONES FARM, out of a brown paper bag when they are on the front porch in Crawford, Texas, telling each other war stories about their flying days...Bush Junior, shot down over 100 beer cans in one nasty dog fight...That was before he went AWOL from the Air National Guard. To avoid going to Vietnam..

    November 15, 2008 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  11. djak

    It's a meeting of world leaders, what did you expect them to serve...cans of Pepsi and Doritos?

    November 15, 2008 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  12. Susan, NC via LA

    So? Frankly, they're all world leaders or at least very high up in their government, so they're earned the right. Do you expect them to drink Beringer White Zinfandel at a world economic summit?

    November 15, 2008 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  13. Mr E

    How would a president understand poverty when he or she has never ever been poor. shame on the world leaders,

    November 15, 2008 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  14. woodburn

    Laura picked the wine ; George picked his nose

    November 15, 2008 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  15. KimSK - Iowa

    Cry me a river! What do you expect them to serve, Bud light and water?? Am I the only one who finds this retarded? Why don't you put those world leaders up in Motel 6 while you are at it...Get a grip already!

    November 15, 2008 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  16. John

    Exactly "Catholicmom4Obama," I'm sure Barrack will be serving his guests Sutter Home Cab Sav with Cheezits. Give me a break, just because the general public switches from Jiffy to Food Lion brand peanut butter during a recession doesn't mean that the president can't serve wine from the whitehouse cellar that was bought God knows how long ago and happens to be $500/bottle. Yet another example of how the media in this country highlights the smallest detail to rile up the poplulous to drag someone's reputation through the dirt. I don't support Bush either but come on, I have a bottle of maker's mark in my liquor cabinet i bought 6 months ago, does this mean I can't serve it to my house guests in good taste? Grow up people...

    November 15, 2008 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  17. J.V.Hodgson

    I am appalled, if they think over dinner and a bottle of wine, they are impressing me (never mind the cost of the wine) Each of the G20 heads should have been having meetings with thier top economic and financial advisors, about what specifics they were going to propose based on the pre communications, between all those governments which were no doubt variable ideas to see what was at least remotely common, pursue those and get consensus on at least three or four key points and act, and identify others for further discussion.. They are managing one of the globes major catastrophes and behaving as though a fancy dinner is more important and criticising rightly the greed elsewhere.
    Personally, I have been a CEO and given up more free lunches and dinners than I care to recall for much lower level crises with which these guys have to currently deal.
    Who is paying? The taxpayer from all G20 countries.
    We want accountabilty and action not dinners that only re-state pre-conceived diplomatic positions.... and do not help find the common ground in my experience, only cloud the issues often based on misinterpretations of what someone said when half drunk at worst or an incorrect interpretation of a casual conversational remark in a basically informal environment.
    The pouting by Bush about free markets is pathetic, no one believes they should be eliminated, but simply regulated against excessive risk and greed.

    November 15, 2008 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  18. klaus schaaf

    So do I understand right that Germany is a developing country? Surprise, surprise

    November 15, 2008 03:38 am at 3:38 am |
  19. NAVI

    Hey because of the Economic crises this may be the last good meal they
    WATCH CBS 60 minutes of the week before election.
    It shows how 8 years back Congress fell in love with wall street
    and all "outdated" regulatory laws and a new york gambling law
    was removed so the financial institutions could do whatever they wanted and traders not get in troubleThat was the Goldilocks economy of irrational exuberance.Today it is the three bears.
    Heavily regulated indian banks have escaped this problem
    It is going to take a long time for market to recover.BBCnews has been predicting this for 2 years.
    A U.S.Financial expert said that there are usually 2 types of Market
    rebound One a V shaped and one is U shaped.This particular one is
    a L shaped.
    The market bounce according to the British is the bounce of a dead cat
    By the way it is not thanksgiving yet and we have so many turkeys at the
    white house.GOBBLE GOBBLE

    November 15, 2008 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  20. Brian Cordell

    This is a non-story. Thanks for playing.

    November 15, 2008 03:49 am at 3:49 am |
  21. WineLover

    Clerly you all are missing the point. This is a great vintage, but it's too soon to drink it. It would be best in another five years. Looks like to me, their drinking all the good stuff, so it won't be there for the next President.

    November 15, 2008 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  22. Laura

    I am one of the many who can not wait for jan 20th...however this is so much of a non issue its not even funny. At least it is an American made wine, so lets say that they did actually buy it a couple of years ago for their wine cellar, at least they put that money back into the U.S economy!! It's the president of the united states of america...i am very sure that there is much more expensive wines, cognacs, ports, and champanges in that cellar...and trust me i could care less!!!

    November 15, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  23. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    I have a suggestion of what to do with the empty bottles!!! (WINK!)

    November 15, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  24. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Just remember how the Roman Empire collapsed – it's being revisited, courtesy of the "successful" businessman turned President, George Bush.

    November 15, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  25. WineLover

    With a little research, in 2005 they served the Queen "1994 Hillside Select", excellent age. Now in 2008 their serving "2003", too young. My question, there seems to be some vintages missing, like six years of, wheres it at. Maybe a ranch in Texas?

    November 15, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
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