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. Anjali

    The country's financial state does not have to reflect on United States President guest's dinner plate.... This article is in bad taste. There are many important National/International NEWS articles/issues which need to be reported.

    November 14, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  2. Tony D

    I am the biggest cheapskate you will find anywhere – my last pair of shoes were worn until they quite literally fell apart, and so will my current pair.

    This is one instance, however, where I will go back on a lifetime of pennypinching.

    When the leaders of countries show up, it's time to break out the quail and the good wine. Can you imagine – "Thank you for coming, President Sarkozy. Here's a sandwich and some Pepsi."

    November 14, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  3. Wrong Focus

    Come on.... There are more important things to worry about than the price of a bottle of wine at a dinner with international dignitaries. You are hosting the decision makers of the world, what do you expect, serve them $20 wine?

    November 14, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  4. Steve

    This article is retarded. Seriously? Who cares. Do you really expect the white house to serve world leaders box wine? Dear god.

    November 14, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  5. Charles Torrence Jr

    Unreal... thats all it is is unreal.. bunch of wind out of the mouth from the right and left....

    November 14, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  6. reasonable, non-indebted american

    Let us not forget that it was not world leaders that generated the current financial crisis. . .but the corporate lenders that made a multitude of poor financial decisions. . .oh and by the way all of those of my "poor" fellow americans who needed thier big screen TVs, football tickets and fishing boats so badly that they charged them to a VISA or took out a lien on their house for simple, empty pleasures. It is time to pay the piper. . .not blame the leaders who have to fight ignorance to save people from themselves

    November 14, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  7. TrueIndependent

    What's with some of you people on this blog? What would you have the White House serve them, $1.99 bottle wine? It is called Hospitality. And I won't be surprised if the White House got the wine at next to thing prices.
    Let's move to the next topic, such as why on earth would Obama consider Hillary for SoS?

    November 14, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  8. Nannie Bouroughs

    Gee, I am really shocked!

    What do you think is happening to all of the 700 Billion + 150 Billion in PURE PORK our Congressmen/Congresswomen & Senators gave to companies like AIG?

    How any American with a brain can fail to understand that the rich & powerful will always "Take care of their Own" is totally beyond me!

    November 14, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  9. den

    Would you rather they have kool-aid? How stupid. Let's find out what kind of shower gel Laura uses and see if someone in America has a coupon.

    November 14, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  10. yvonne burkes

    How wonderful, while the rest of us are wondering how we are going to pay our bills the bigwigs are dining lavishly, and drinking 500.00 a bottle wine. When is this going to stop, how long are the american people going to keep putting up with this. I think George Bush should be put out before time ,They should move the inauguration date up so he can get out of there, and stop making fools out of the american people

    November 14, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  11. Jordan

    I think it was a going away party for bush.

    November 14, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  12. Lance

    Ok, this is just sensational journalism. That wine may have been donated to the White House by Shafer and now they have gotten more press than they ever would have thanks to CNN. The wine probably cost 100 dollar a bottle if the White House bought it at most and for something along these lines, it's not unheared of or even shameful. For those who are just going nuts, perhaps we should audit your spending and see how much you've spent on cigarettes, liquor and any other "unnecessary" spending.

    And I am a die hard left wing Democrat in case you're wondering.

    But let's face it, the world is a selfish, greedy place and it always will be. How about actually acting upon it and volunteering, helping your fellow man and getting madder than hell about things that matter, like the kitten being kicked by the teenagers on cnn today. How about thinking about those who have no ability to take care of themselves and stop worrying about a stupid bottle of wine, no matter how great it probably was.

    November 14, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  13. Credit Card Republicans

    A nice Napa Valley wine with a great bouquet.At least it isnt French.

    November 14, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  14. Christiaan, Norman OK upset as I am about the financial crisis, I really do think it's okay if we splurge on world leaders...

    That desperate to stir up controversy?

    November 14, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  15. NickNas

    CAREFUL people

    They have doing this for GENERATIONS and they never wrote about it. This is a set-up so the Obamas will have to live on Big Macs and Happy meals for 8 years or risk looking bad.


    November 14, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  16. ErniePF

    What the H E double L is wrong with these idiots? No one should pay more than a hundred bucks for an American wine. Or eighty for that matter. There isn't a single vintner in America that produces wines that are that stellar.

    People (rich and otherwise) are so full of themselves....

    November 14, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  17. Mick

    Of course these politicians and their appointees feel that they deserve only the best at, "such a gathering". this is what happens when "leaders" separate themselves from those they claim to represent.

    Just because they have behaved this way all along does NOT excuse their skewed sense of entitlement. Do not forget who pays for EVERYTHING that government buys/does/gives away in our name.

    I wonder what the new president will feel is appropriate for these functions, after he "spreads the wealth around"?

    November 14, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  18. Wow

    Bon appetite, and don't forget to talk about this financial crisis while you're sipping $500. wine.

    November 14, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  19. Just Some Guy

    I'll be thinkin' of 'em when I'm chasin' down my hot dog with a PBR.

    November 14, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  20. Johni Luvamerica

    wait when i saw this, i thought it was really a joke, every person that deals with organizing events and the pr staff in the white house should be fired, i really hope this blows up because this is just wrong they should have been dining on dollar menu sandwiches and generic sodas r u serious 500 bottle of wine can u imagine taking a sip of the wine and then turning to the president of another country and saying how hard the economy is. Something tells me no leader would take a sip of the wine. there is no way any one with morals can do that. Just like the head of AIG caught on tape in that expensive hotes . Please presidents prove to me that you are better than that.

    November 14, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    What's the point of this article? Why don't we just serve the world leaders Big Gulps from 7-Eleven?

    November 14, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  22. chris from STL

    It is not as bad as paying 150K for dressing a VP candidate.

    I'm OK with spending on dining VIP's visiting us. These are not ordinary VIPs ... these are leaders of some powerful countries. Got to keep them happy!

    November 14, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  23. chuck

    Phil Gramm and George Bush's favorite tongue twister:
    " why does a nation of whiners whine about wine?"
    "Probably beacause the people would prefer a proper piece of the pie."
    "A piece of the Pie?...why that would go great with my wine"

    November 14, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  24. Jim Hall

    What is wrong with the wine that I buy for $3.99 for a large bottle it is called Arbor Mist. It comes in blackberry, peach, strawberry, raspberry, and tropical fruit flavor. More waste of the tax payers money thanks to the GOP (Gay Old Party) Jim Hall Kansas City Missouri.

    November 14, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  25. Flags

    Pure crap to the Bush household!

    November 14, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
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