Morning Sound Bite: Leon Panetta, Bin Laden, and a $10,000 Bottle of Wine

The Secretary of Defense’s restaurateur pal makes good on a very expensive bet.

By: Jessica Voelker

Leon Panetta

“Leon called me at about 7:15 on a Sunday evening and told me to turn on CNN because the President was going to make an announcement, and, by the way, to call Ted and tell him to get ready to open that bottle of wine.”
—Sylvia Panetta, wife of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, recalls the night Osama Bin Laden was killed.

The wine in question, a $10,000 bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1870, belonged to Panetta’s friend Ted Balestreri, a California restaurateur. Balestreri had promised the wine to Panetta under the condition that he caught or killed Bin Laden. Panetta poured the wine at a recent dinner party, sharing it with several dozen friends.