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. Bill Hewett

    Let all these heads of state wear their purple and dine on the finest. Because there will come a time when the beggers–working americans paying for this–will be rewarded greatly with eternal peace and the rich and greedy will also be rewarded–with eternal punishment.

    November 14, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  2. hometowndemocrat

    I sure everyone posting here realizes that most of our US leaders (I can't speak for the rest of the world) are educated in law and business etc. and could be making huge sums of money in the private sector but instead have chosen to serve their country for a fraction of the income that they could be making.

    I say THANK YOU for giving up all aspects of your private lives and having your personal business blared all over the news to serve us. I hope you enjoyed the wine, you probably deserved it.

    November 14, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  3. Ray from NY

    WooHoo!! The repugs are at it again lol this country and other world countries are in a recession depression and what do we do as good hosts? We serve 500 dollar a bottle wine with quail and lamb!! nice use of the taxpayers money president and Mrs Bush!!

    November 14, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  4. jake

    this is dumb
    what do you want, for the white house to serve orange juice?

    how much the white house spends on its guests has nothing to do with the economy.

    November 14, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  5. Logic

    CNN ... you stink !

    What a lousy article to post about our White House. I don't like GWB but this has nothing to do with that. Please stop this nonsense.

    November 14, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  6. Gaylon Barrow

    What makes these leader think they are deserving of such dining. When they are the ones who brought this calamity down on us and the rest of the world. It is time for the people to stand up and take back their countries . These leaders shoud have said NO BUT HELL NO WILL I DINE WITH SUCH FOOLS.

    November 14, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  7. beerguzzler

    My buddy and I drank 6 bottles of homemade potato wine at 50 cents a bottle last night. The white house wine would have cost us 6000 dollars. I would sell my wine 30 cents wholesale to the white just to save the working taxpayer money. A buzz is a buzz.. Can't believe why the public is not in a uproar;

    November 14, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  8. Aaron from MN

    I'm sure that the white house got it for very cheap, look at the advertising they get to the world. Plus, it is custom to offer foreign dignitaries the best that your country has to offer. I'm sure hosting the dignitaries is cheaper then flying ole george over to europe anyway.

    November 14, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  9. Mes

    What is a "reasonable" level of compensation for public service these days anyway?

    November 14, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  10. justsane

    heaven knows, we wouldn't want to leave it behind for those "tax and spend" liberals who are about to move in...

    November 14, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  11. Seth

    I don't have a problem with this. They are the leaders of the world and we should host them appropriately. Symbolic austerity isn't going to fix the economy.

    November 14, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  12. Bob

    I'd be getting tanked if I screwed up the entire world. Wouldn't you?

    November 14, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  13. hotcatholic-mom-4-Obama

    If I were a world leader visiting the White House, I would expect to drink good wine. It probably is the cheapest wine they have in the White House, would you like them to go to the local supermarket and buy a cheaper bottle? Yellowtail maybe?

    November 14, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  14. michael


    November 14, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  15. STEVE M.

    Thanks for not mentioning Canada in the "honor" roll!

    November 14, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  16. Rachel

    This is a little petty what should they serve them MD20/20?

    November 14, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  17. pam Eugene OR

    This is disgusting. Heads should roll for this. There are a lot of Americans who don't make that much money in a week.
    Shame on the administration for allowing this!!!!!
    Shame Shame Shame
    There are literally hundreds of American wines that are fantastic for about $30 a bottle. This is an outrage!

    November 14, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  18. Matt In WA

    No embarrasement at all from Laura over discovering the stuff is now worth 500 a bottle. I suppose it didnt occur to her that they white house might liquidate some of the wine stocks that have appreciated and return the money to the taxpayers. Then serve a nice Cab that costs about 20 bucks a bottle.

    November 14, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  19. simple man

    and I can't afford Mt Dew anymore......

    want to help the economy and bail out the banks...divide up the billions of dollars you are giving the banks and other companies and give all of it to the poor. Most of them will put it in the bank (because of the types of neighborhoods some of us have to live in) and then start spending it and live high on the hog for a while because they don't have the luxury of putting it in stocks or savings because they are to busy trying to survive and have so many things they have done without . The banks will get an infusion of money and the big four in detroit will see some cars bought because most of us could use a new one.

    November 14, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  20. Franky

    $500 bottles? I gotta say, can I order some? LOL!!!

    November 14, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  21. Paul in FL

    May I suggest the George W. send a few bottles to our soldiers fighting his war.

    November 14, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  22. Glenn - Leominster, MA

    Glad to see the same morons that got us into this economic mess are still living large. Pathetic.

    November 14, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  23. Jackdog1

    Such a scandal! The top leaders in the world eat and drink better than other people? Whooda thunk? I suppose the White House should now only serve day old bread and dirty water to demonstrate the president's sympathy for those suffering in the economic recession?

    November 14, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  24. Common Sense

    This wine is available for as little as $135 in many shops. Not very accurate reporting CNN.

    November 14, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  25. dizizi31

    $500/bottle what a deal. Let's be glad it not SilverOak. I hope it's a domestic wine. It's W's last chance to dine world leaders on the taxpayers dime. My Guess Shafer Winery is in need of some free publicity.

    November 14, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
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