What??? $500-a-bottle wine* at the White House … Now???

White House State Dining Room (Used with permission.)
White House State Dining Room (Used with permission.)

What do world leaders get to imbibe at the White House in these last days of the Bush presidency?

To look at the menu for the G20 financial-crisis dinner held on November 14, 2008 at the White House, you wouldn’t even guess that world leaders flew in to discuss the economic woes of the world — and swilled wine to the tune of $500 a bottle for the main course. Shafer Cabernet Hillside Select 2003.* Pretty exclusive. And the chanterelles don’t exactly come cheap either — they weigh in at about $24 per pound.

Presidents must pay for their own groceries — and they have since the early days at the white mansion, BUT when dinners like this one take place, the taxpayer ponies up the cash:

Fruitwood-smoked Quail with Quince Gastrique

Quinoa Risotto

Landmark Chardonnay Damaris Reserve 2006 ($40 a bottle)

Thyme-roasted Rack of Lamb

Tomato, Fennel and Eggplant Fondue

Chanterelle Jus

Shafer Cabernet Hillside Select 2003 ($500 a bottle … )

Lolla Rosa, Red Oak and Endive

Cider Vinaigrette

Baked Vermont Brie with Walnut Crostini

Pear Torte

Huckleberry Sauce

Chandon Etoile Rose ($30 a bottle)

A very French menu, with the requisite vegetarian offerings — quinoa risotto and tomato/fennel/eggplant fondue.

A question you might have — what is “Lolla Rosa?” It’s the “radicchio of lettuce,” a milder (thank goodness) version of traditionally bitter radicchio.

At best we can hope that solutions for the global financial crisis flowed as easily as did the wine …

*The price for this wine varies, ranging from $219 a bottle on the Internet to $800 a bottle in New York City. Even if it sells for “only” $219 a bottle, whew, that’s still a lot of money. Too bad it all gets pissed away.

© 2008 C. Bertelsen

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