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. Scam

    Soooo now its a world wide wealth distribution

    hosted by Bush/Cheney

    What other country can you fall asleep on the job while playing cowboys and indians and get to increase your personal wealth....and your oil , arms race buddies


    November 14, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  2. Brenda

    What better way to instill confidence in the world's economic condition than to serve $500 per bottle wine for an "intimate" gathering of the top leaders of 20 of your closest allies.....

    November 14, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    what about appearances to those in need?

    November 14, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  4. david c

    it's basic protocol. You have government leaders from other countries, you treat them well. It's what I or anyone else will do for a special guest. Chill out.

    November 14, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  5. Marylou South Carolina

    Imagine what the other world leaders must think..they are all in this financial mess too (except for the Saudi's)...more American excess.

    November 14, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  6. Come on!

    Are you people serious? You can't serve world leaders Mad Dog 20/20 and ground beef! Who cares even if it is a $500 bottle of wine – those AIG execs. are drinking far better than that on our tax dollars!

    November 14, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  7. Mike G

    People need to relax. What is the big deal? Do you expect the president to serve dominoes to fellow world leaders?

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

    People at the top of the economic pyramid have a perverse sense of values. The income levels, greed, and malfeasance of corporate leaders in this country is contemptable and simply un-American. I'm sure a lot of those folks jumped on the "William Ayers is a terrorist" bandwagon during the election, but the damage they have done to this country makes Ayers look like a Boy Scout.

    November 14, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  9. Donna

    LOL@Martin Howell....

    But I don't care about them serving wine that costs that much...these are WORLD LEADERS...I'm sure they would do the same had they hosted...

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

    who cares about millionares!

    November 14, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  11. The Wanderer

    Oh maaaaannnnnn... The White House is gunna audit every reporter involved in breaking this story!! 😮

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

    And this is any different than the how many millions Obama spent on his victory celebration in Chicago?????????

    And it will be any different that when Obama has his party after taking office????

    Do you think people are thining about the economy when they shell out 1000s of dollars to attend the inaguration?????

    November 14, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  13. Justin -NC

    Meanwhile, I'll be treating the girl of my dreams to a Happy Meal and I'll have a five piece McNugget with a water. Main Street still suffers while Pennsylvannia Ave spends five hundred on WINE! How about we just run our economies on sand instead of cotton

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

    This is why the concept of "Revolution" exists. If you don't like this, do something about it. Is this the same misuse of your taxes that you would suffer under a tyranny? Of course. The tyranny Americans suffer under today is every bit as real and a hundred times worse than that suffered by our forefathers when they resorted to musketry to set things right. The coming economic collapse will provide the stimulus for many people to start questioning what has happened to their country. Revolution and secession will be on the table.

    November 14, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  15. C.V.Terry

    Why would anything less be served? What would you expect- Colt .45 and MD 20/20?

    This is our leader, like it or not, and this is a serious matter! If our head of state cannot serve an appropriate wine, we would lose even more 'face' than we already have. The French are here for chrissakes!

    No worries, though- I am quite confident that BO's transition team has the key to the cellar and the name of the sommelier on their list.

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

    I think they should offer the guests just coffee, tea or milk. They need a very clear head to try and work out the problems that have been caused by living way too far over budget.

    November 14, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  17. Ohhh Canada

    I guess Canada is now considered a "developing country". Typical U.S. ignorance

    November 14, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  18. Maria Loi

    Well, someone had to suck in all the luxury and usually it would be the elite!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 14, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  19. Debbie

    This makes me absolutely sick. People are losing their homes and jobs (me included) and they are toasting each other with $500.00 bottles of wine. This really upsets me to no end.

    November 14, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  20. Political Agnostic

    Seriously? CNN (as usual) is trying to bring controversy to irrelevency to make advertising dollars. You don't invite world leaders over and feed them hot dogs and Busch beer, it would be a sign of disrespect.

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

    You're right, let's not nit-pick over $500 wine. I mean an intimate group of 30 people probably only went though about 20 bottles. That would be about $10,000, chump change, right. Sounds aristocratic to me. Also, when's the last time the government bought ANYTHING wholesale??!! If it's worth 500, they probably paid 23,000.

    November 14, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  22. vahe

    what the hell people cant pay their rent these people are having 500 dollar wine....

    November 14, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  23. Jonathan

    Kind of like buying a house one cant afford and using credit to buy that $3500 sofa at Pottery Barn and that $1000 HDTV at Best Buy to stock that house; that, again, is way out of your means. The public is just as guilty as the business' making money off of the credit as well as the gov't spending their budget ("tax" money). That is what makes the system go 'round – indulgence outside of your means, credit. If you really want to make a difference, spend your own CASH to buy. See what that does, you may have box wine and a This End Up sofa but at least its paid for by your own hard work and not on credit. Get real and quit living outside of your means. I can afford a $500 bottle of wine but I prefer a two buck chuck because it tastes the same and I have $480 left. If only Traders had a credit card I could get –

    November 14, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  24. Jeanie

    Nothing from Bush surprises me anymore. Totally disappointing!

    November 14, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  25. danny

    And I was happy just to see Arizona tea on sale for 1.25. How out of touch can you be.

    November 14, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
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