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. winedrinker

    That wine only costs $133.33 wholesale, the restaurants i work for sell it for $265. i don't know how can sell it for $500!!

    November 14, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  2. Davey

    They have a cellar full of wine. They pull out what's most appropriate for heads of state. If the President of some country came to your house for a formal dinner, you'd probably want your best stuff out.

    They most likely got it at wholesale. But then some of you'd probably criticize them for getting special treatment.

    November 14, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  3. Jonathan, Milwaukee, WI

    The rich only care about people that aren't rich because they'll work harder in lower paying jobs for them, then buy whatever they're selling. They're not going to sacrifice in their own life, they'll simply cut jobs and salaries, and raise prices so they can keep the lifestyle to which they are accustomed.

    November 14, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  4. Simon Hardman

    I wasn't aware that Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan and South Korea were "developing economies", as the list near the end of the article appears to suggest.

    November 14, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  5. Mike C

    Because drinking cheap wine at a G-20 summit would go over real well. This is a stupid story

    November 14, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  6. Bmusila

    This is petty talk, I am sorry.

    November 14, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  7. Jonathan

    Do you people honestly care if the White House serves $500 wine while hosting world leaders? Would you be happier if they greeted them with a big mac and diet coke instead? I know you are all fairly simple people with limited imagination, but there is some tangible value in treating powerful world leaders that you are hosting to the very best you have to offer.

    November 14, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  8. Eric

    Well..... someone has to use it right?

    November 14, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  9. Anonymous


    November 14, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  10. vic

    so ... they should be served Budweiser's and burgers instead? Big deal, Joe the wine seller has got to make his money too ya know.

    November 14, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  11. Matthew - Franklin, MA

    500$ a bottle? Doesn't sound so bad, I would have expected this to be much more expensive. If it were two thousand per bottle that would be an outrage, but at 500, its not even a drop in the bucket.

    November 14, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  12. A Realistic Person

    The United States has an image that needs to be upheld when in the presence of world leaders. We can't just serve them bread and water. Being gracious hosts to our neighbors is of much more value to the United States in the long run. There's plenty of government largess to analyze, so why don't we stick to attacking the really bad stuff?

    November 14, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  13. Lauren

    oh laura bush. keep buying your suits that costs thousands of dollars and using up everything you can. didn't nancy reagan spend a million on the white house china? te funny thing is laura bush grew up drinking pabst blue ribbon

    November 14, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  14. Miami for Obama


    November 14, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    I think it would be more fitting to just offer coffee, tea or milk. With a clear head, they may be able to handle the mess that overspending and overborrowing has caused.


    November 14, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  16. Rachel Schwartz, Stony Point, New York

    It's totally inappropriate for the White House and for Mrs Bush to serve such an expensive wine. American citizens are busy losing their jobs and wondering whether they'll be able to make the next mortgage payment. This is taxpayers' money that Mrs Bush is busy squandering and she should be ashamed of herself for being so irresponsible.

    November 14, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  17. Josh

    It's hilarious how upset the 'it's not fair' crowd is getting over this. He's meeting with world leaders, the wine's probably been in the cellar for years, get over it. What would you have him serve instead? BBQ hot dogs and Keystone Light?

    November 14, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  18. george bush

    Its a texas wine. bought with oil money. get back to work.

    November 14, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  19. Don

    Well I'm glad they don't serve Boones Farm or anything with a screw off top.

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

    what? no Olde English 40s or MD20/20 in the cellar?

    November 14, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  21. New Day

    nice... Well, they are trying to stimulate the economy, I guess. hehe

    November 14, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  22. Larry

    You people here are about as petty as I've ever seen,even this article about the price of the wine is pretty cheesy .What would you have the President do,give his guest Ripple in a paper bag like you drink.?

    November 14, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  23. Don from Maine

    Just another example of this administrations arrogance and elitism. I;m so glad it's coming to an end. I didn't have rack of lamb and wine for dinner tonight and I;m sure most of America didn;t either. Ironic that world leaders are here to discuss the economy as they enjoy fine wine and food. I'm sure the poor and starving both here and in the visiting leaders countries are impressed. I hope the new administration has more decency. Perhaps this dinner would have better been held at a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen so the elite leaders couold see how the non elite live. One $500.00 bottle of wine would go along way towards feeding the hungry here in AMERICA tonight. Get Real

    November 14, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  24. PDX

    The media is spinning this. I found this same wine online for $245 a bottle and snce this is a 2003 vintage, the White House probably purchased it in bulk a couple of years ago and got it at wholesale for a LOT less than $245. I'm sure there are a lot of wineries that wholesale their wine to the whitehouse just for the prestige. You can bet this wine WILL retail for nearly $500 after this story.

    November 14, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  25. Been There

    I don't know the White House budget for entertainment and travel but there sure is a lot of saving to be done. The Pres travels overseas with many hundreds of people. The more you have the more you need to handle them. Most are not necessary. Suggest that Obama travel with whoever fits on Air Force One plus a reasonable security detail. Pre-advance or pre-pre-advance visits of many dozens are wasteful. For every domestic or international trip, the numbers should be posted on the internet immediately for all to see.

    November 14, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
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