Leon Panetta To Toast Bin Laden’s Death With $10,000 Bottle of Wine

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta no doubt had manifold reasons for wishing to see Osama bin Laden killed or captured: justice, revenge, professional pride. Also, the opportunity to partake of a $10,000 bottle of wine.

The Los Angeles Times reports that on New Year’s Eve 2010 Panetta made a bet with Monterey, Calif., restauranteur and friend of 40 years Ted Balesteri: If bin Laden is captured, Balesteri’s $10,000 Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1870 gets uncorked. When bin Laden was discovered and killed in May, Panetta telephoned his wife Sylvia.

“Turn on CNN in 15 minutes,” he said. “The president will have an announcement — and, by the way, tell Ted to get ready to open that bottle.”

Balestri tells the Times that he didn’t regard the bet as serious — “It was like a joke. I used to tease him: Leon, you can’t find your golf ball. How are you going to find Bin Laden?” — but is fully willing to make good the wager.

“I’m out 10 grand but it was worth every penny. It will be my honor to honor one of America’s great heroes. Leon has made us all proud.”

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